GOP officials blast Wolf on tax returns

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Farrell, Welsh and DiGiorgio call for 10 years of returns to be released

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


County Commssioner Terence Farrell criticizes Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf for failing to release the last 10 years of tax returns as well as records relating to his business as Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh and GOP party chair Val DiGiorgio look on, Tuesday.

WEST CHESTER — A number of Chester County’s leading Republicans gathered Tuesday on the old county Courthouse steps with a simple request: that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf release his tax returns for the last decade.

County GOP Committee Chair Val DiGiorgio was joined by Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh and County Commissioner Terence Farrell — who blasted Wolf over his tax returns, the low rate of tax he’s paid and for maintaining his company — which builds kitchen cabinets — as a Delaware corporation since regaining control over in it 2009.

“It seems Secretary Wolf has one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else,” said DiGiorgio, referring specifically to a Wolf tax proposal that would lead wealthier Pennsylvanians to ultimately pay more in income tax. DiGiorgio — aided by large graphic panels behind the podium set up on the steps — pointed out that wold has paid about 8% in taxes, while the average resident of the state pays 18%. With his company incorporated in Delaware, it pays no taxes to Pennsylvania, he noted.

A Wolf spokesman, Mark Nicastre, rejected the entire argument, saying that both Wolf and the Wolf Organization had made its returns and financial information available and suggested that Republicans and the Corbett campaign were grasping at straws to attempt to change the conversation — and avoid allegations that former Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis was given a no-show job after his ouster from Corbett’s cabinet.

“Tom Wolf has released his personal income taxes and financial information from the Wolf Organization – a privately held company,” Nicastre said. “Tom Corbett is trying to distract from scandals that have engulfed his administration. In the past month, Corbett has come under fire for holding campaign meetings in his government office, keeping a ghost employee on staff, and deleting thousands of emails in a likely violation of the state’s open records law.”

Local Republicans say they don’t buy that argument, and that Wolf has only released data from the past couple of years. DiGiorgio, Welsh and Farrell said that Wolf should release the last 10 years of his personal tax returns and open the books of the Wolf Organization.

“This is consistent with what other candidates have done,” DiGiorgio said, noting a long list of Pennsylvania Democrats who called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his tax returns in 2012, including former Gov. Ed Rendell.

“What is he hiding?” he asked.

Farrell made a point of arguing that Wolf was exploiting the “Delaware Loophole” at a time when the state’s finances are hurting — the state had to close a budget deficit in this year’s budget as revenue fell below projections.

“He’s had five years to reorganize in Pennsylvania,” Farrell said. “”It’s time for him to pay his fair share in Pennsylvania.”

Welsh said it is a matter of fairness — pointing out again, that the three years of data released by Wolf show him to have paid just 8%. She cited middle class families — who may end up paying more in taxes if Wolf is elected, she said — as already paying a larger share of their income in taxes than Wolf, based on the limited returns he’s released. She asked if the previous years painted an even worse picture — as a possible motivation for keeping wraps on the returns.

“Why won’t Tom Wolf release his returns?” Welsh asked. “We have a right to ask questions.”

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