- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is accusing his top GOP rival of “hiding” behind her tax returns and calling on her to reveal the full sources of her income.

McMaster launched a new website Wednesday, WhatIsTempletonHiding.com , accusing former state agency head Catherine Templeton of not being transparent about sources of her income.

“Given Templeton’s campaign for governor has been largely centered on the idea, however fantastical, that she is a champion of government ethics, transparency, and accountability, the decision to keep the public in the dark about how she has made a living as a ‘consultant’ over the last few years is surprising,” the site reads.

Media have reported that Templeton’s campaign made available joint tax filings for 2014 through 2016 for Templeton and her husband but only produced summaries of income, deductions and taxes owed. McMaster’s campaign allowed reporters to review 16 years of returns shortly after he became governor last year and recently released more.

The website - which McMaster’s campaign says will stay up until Templeton reveals how much money she took in from state agencies and lists her consulting clients - also lists contracts Templeton signed with several state agencies following her stint in Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration. Documents show that Templeton earned $86,500 from her contract with Department of Health and Environmental Control and also took in $37,500 from three months of consulting work at the Department of Revenue.

McMaster’s campaign has criticized Templeton for taking the job consulting for the state health department after serving as its director, taking to Twitter on Tuesday night to applaud a Senate resolution that would preclude such arrangements in the future.

McMaster has also reaped the benefits of state consulting, earning over $500,000 from the University of South Carolina Law School after serving as the state’s attorney general. The Senate resolution would not apply to that arrangement, however, according to state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, the amendment’s author. Kimpson said that it only applies to former agency heads who try to “engage the same agency in a consulting contract,” though the amendment doesn’t explicitly state that.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Templeton’s campaign dismissed the criticism as hypocrisy from McMaster, who has served decades in South Carolina’s political structure.

“Every contract Catherine Templeton has ever had with the state is public record and always has been,” campaign spokesman Mark Powell said. “These false and hypocritical attacks are exactly what we’ve come to expect from a career politician who has made over $1.4 million off taxpayers since his election as attorney general.”

McMaster has closely linked himself to President Donald Trump, who has yet to release his own tax returns following the 2016 campaign, in which he bucked an American tradition honored by every president since Jimmy Carter. Ahead of South Carolina’s primary that year, McMaster became the first statewide elected official in the nation to back Trump’s presidential bid. The president helped elevate McMaster from lieutenant governor to the state’s top slot by picking then-Gov. Haley to become his U.N. ambassador.

Trump has also officially endorsed McMaster’s bid for a first full term, coming to South Carolina in October to appear with him at a campaign fundraiser. McMaster’s campaign didn’t immediately comment Wednesday when asked about the governor’s position on Trump’s returns.

___

Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.


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