Ala. Gov. Bentley’s opponent releases tax return

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - One of Gov. Robert Bentley’s opponents in the governor’s race released his income tax return Wednesday, and another opponent said he will release his tax return as soon as he files it.

Former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George of Baileyton reported a taxable income that was about one-tenth as much as Bentley‘s.

George’s tax return listed his only income as his paycheck as a correctional officer in a state prison. His total pay was $38,099, and his taxable income was $34,940. He had no interest earnings, dividends or capital gains, and his federal taxes totaled $2,708. He had about twice that amount withheld from his paycheck, and he said he planned to use his refund to file for a divorce.

The Republican candidate said he and his wife have been separated for about 14 months, but he has been waiting for some extra money to cover the cost of filing for a divorce. “So I have the money to file now,” he said.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville said he filed for an extension, but he plans to release his income tax return as soon as he files it. Griffith said he will release his return because the public has become suspicious of politicians and it is best for candidates to clear the air. “I think people are interested in the financial condition of candidates,” he said.

Bentley, a Republican, has been releasing his income tax returns since he ran for governor in 2010. His latest joint return with his wife showed $372,687 in adjusted gross income. That includes proceeds from selling his interest in a medical building, IRA distributions and Social Security.

George said he released his return Wednesday to show that he’s more like the average Alabama citizen.

Bentley is not taking a paycheck as governor until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.2 percent. Griffith has been campaigning on not taking any salary, no matter what the unemployment rate. George he said he would take the governor’s salary of nearly $121,000 if elected. “In life you get what you pay for,” he said.

He said he would make up the difference for taxpayers by not using as much security as Bentley does. He said he would do that by carrying the same pistol he carries on the campaign trail.

“As Alabama’s gun-toting governor, I will be safe with less security by keeping my .40-caliber Glock on a shoulder holster next to my heart, both physically and emotionally,” he said.

Two other candidates, Democrat Kevin Bass of Fayette and Republican Bob Starkey of Scottsboro, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Democratic and Republican primaries are June 3.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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