Former Gov. Roy Barnes on Wednesday released 25 years worth of his personal tax returns as part of his campaign to reclaim his old job at the Capitol.
Barnes, speaking at a news conference just steps from his old office, said he posted online more than 1,500 pages of documents. He also released his current financial disclosure statement filed with the State Ethics Commission. It shows he and his wife, Marie, have a net worth of more than $16.6 million, or nearly double the $8.5 million they were worth in 2001.
“Georgia deserves a governor with nothing to hide,” Barnes said, adding that all candidates for governor should release at least 10 years worth of tax returns. Barnes wants his opponents to go further than merely picking a time and place for the media to inspect records, as Republican gubernatorial hopeful Eric Johnson did recently.
He said the release of such personal information is “part of public life. Everyone who is a voter is entitled to it.”
By releasing the financial information, Barnes said, voters can determine whether a candidate benefited or prospered from public life.
“It’s time to either put up or shut up,” he said. “It’s time to say I believe in this, I’m going to do it. You either put it online or you admit to the public that it’s the same old thing done the same old way.”
For tax year 2009, Barnes’ returns show a total income of $5.1 million and nearly $1.5 million in taxes paid. He and his wife gave nearly $400,000 to charity. His total income increased from $900,000 in 2007 to $3.69 million in 2008.
Barnes owns a successful law firm in Marietta, although he reported only $150,000 in wages in 2009. The rest of his income came from capital gains, income from the law firm and an IRA distribution.
Barnes tied the release of his financial records to the need for more accountability and ethics at the Gold Dome. He took a clear shot at Republican front-runner John Oxendine, the current state insurance commissioner, for allegations in a lawsuit that he accepted trips to the Oscars in Hollywood on the tab of a contributor who asked for help in an insurance dispute.
“While the bright lights of Hollywood and red carpets at the Oscars appeal to some candidates, the people of Georgia don’t need to find out about that hob-knobbing from a lawsuit,” Barnes said, later acknowledging that was in reference to Oxendine.
Oxendine, who is not a party to the lawsuit, has said he reimbursed Dr. Jeffrey Gallups for the trip. Gallups, his family and businesses, have contributed about $100,000 to Oxendine’s campaign.
The “culture of corruption” at the Capitol has to stop, he said. Lobbyists and special interests too much influence and candidates and elected officials should avoid their largesse.
“Our current leaders make decisions not on integrity, but on greed,” he said. “They look for ethics loopholes in the very ethics bills they write.”
Barnes called it “lifestyles for the cheap and shameless.”