Republican presidential candidate Gov. Jeb Bush is releasing 33 years of tax returns and makes political history in doing so. Bush’s release of his tax statements comes after the announcement by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that he is entering the presidential race.
Most candidates release only a few years of tax returns. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who ran as the Republican nominee in 2012, released two years of returns, as did Sen. John McCain when he ran as the GOP nominee in 2008. President Barack Obama released seven years of returns. So far, none of the 2016 presidential candidates, other than Bush, have volunteered to release their tax statements.
Those anxiously awaiting Bush’s release of his tax returns believe the documents will show increased wealth. The release of similar returns during his tenure as governor indicated that his wealth grew from an adjusted gross income of $34,895 in 1986 to a $2 million net worth when he went into office in 1998. However, his wealth declined to $1.3 million in his final term as governor.
Bush’s time in the private sector since 2007 proved to be successful, in spite of the downplay in the American economy. He was attentive to real estate investments, but also included other work like consulting contracts, service on company boards, work with investment firms and speaking fees.
Some are skeptical that the Republican will include all of his financials in the reports because the former governor also has a number of liability companies the public does not know much about. Profits from those services may not be included in this round of tax returns, according to political analysts.
The presidential candidate said the business started by his father focused on growth capital and management consulting. Clients included mostly health care companies, but also real estate, technology companies, oil and gas companies and some niche start-ups, he said.
The presidential candidate is, meanwhile, focusing on his gun rights record during a Nevada campaign stop over the weekend. Speaking at a town hall event, the former Florida governor said his gun record balances Second Amendment rights with public safety. He doubts gun control measures, promoted by Obama, would have stopped the heinous massacre in a Charleston church. Instead, Bush said more access to mental health services would prove more effective in stopping such deadly incidents. Bush is in Charleston this week and plans to meet with black ministers in the community affected by the shooting that left nine people dead.
“Florida is a pro-gun state. Gun violence has dropped. There’s a reason for it,” the candidate said. The Republican also touted the “10-20-life” law in Florida which calls for a 10-year minimum sentence for someone pulling a gun in a crime and a minimum 20-year sentence for anyone pulling the trigger in a crime. The sentence for killing someone by firing a gun in a crime is 25 years to life in Florida.
A 2013 report by the Connecticut General Assembly nonpartisan research arm states that FBI crime reporting numbers show Florida’s gun violence declined after the law took effect in 1999. However, the entire country also saw a decrease in gun violence, according to the report.
Bush earned an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association and continues to receive enthusiastic support from the organization. The presidential candidate, as governor, also signed the debated “stand your ground” law. That law became the focus of controversy after teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in a shooting where the law was a cornerstone of the defense.
Bush releasing 33 years of tax returns will, no doubt, provide news for several days. It is uncertain if other candidates will follow suit and release such a large volume of tax records. Bush’s release is the most tax returns ever released by a candidate.
By Melody Dareing
Washington Post: Jeb Bushes 33 years of tax returns expected to show increased wealth
LA Times: Jeb Bush rejects post-Charleston calls for stricter gun control laws
CNN: Jeb Bush touts record on gun control
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