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Milne Discloses Personal Finances, Highlighting Shumlin's Unwillingness

scott-milne-vpr-evancie-20140923.jpg
Angela Evancie
/
VPR File Photo
Scott Milne, shown here at a VPR debate on Sept. 23, is worth more than $2 million according to recent voluntary disclosures.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne voluntarily disclosed his personal financial information Thursday, despite Vermont’s lack of financial disclosure laws for politicians. Milne released his 2012 and 2013 tax returns and a completed “Ethics in Government Act Financial Disclosure Statement,” which is required for members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Milne’s disclosure revealed a net worth of $2.6 million, including his ownership of Milne Travel (valued at $2 million) and a 50 percent share of B&M Realty (his share valued at $1.7 million). He also owns 2 percent of Masaai LLC, which is a real estate company that owns the building housing Milne Travel's South Burlington office.

Milne’s disclosure was a contrast to Shumlin’s, which was much more limited and didn’t detail his financial holdings. The governor released his 2013 tax return and a list of assets.

As Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics said last month, this lack of transparency makes it hard to know if Vermont politicians are acting in good faith. She explained the rationale behind the Ethics in Government Act, which requires that members of Congress make such disclosures:

“So if they had stock in a company and also took action in Congress to benefit that company, that would be a problem that would then be evident, because they filed these disclosures,” Novak said.

But Shumlin says his finances in non-election years and his financial holdings aren’t an issue for Vermonters.

“I have yet to have a Vermonter come up to me and say ‘Hey, can you give me your 2011 tax return?’” Shumlin said. “I just don’t think it’s on Vermonters’ minds.”

Shumlin may have to revise his statement, because at least one Vermonter, his Republican opponent does have Shumlin’s finances on his mind. And Milne thinks Vermont should follow in the footsteps of Congress and other states that require financial disclosures like his.

“My opponent’s selective disclosure is yet another reason why our Legislature should require candidates to comply with the same transparency requirements set for federal candidates,” Milne said in a release accompanying his disclosure.

The Shumlin campaign doesn’t show any signs of budging, though. Asked if Shumlin would match Milne’s level of disclosure, Shumlin campaign manager Scott Coriell didn’t answer the question.

“I’m glad Scott Milne has decided to join Dan Feliciano and the governor in releasing his tax returns,” Coriell said in an email. “It’s still unclear why he waited a month since he was first asked to do so.”