Although Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont’s SOM ’80 platform centers around helping the middle class, Lamont himself is anything but.
Lamont allowed reporters to copy down statistics from his tax returns last Friday. The returns indicated that he has earned approximately $3.6 million per year since 2013. During the same period he has paid $1.3 million in state income taxes and $3.4 million in federal income taxes, while donating $2.46 million to various charities.
“The release of my tax returns provides more information than anyone else in this race has shared with the people of Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement to the News. “Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns, and so far Bob Stefanowski — who gave Trump an ‘A’ grade for job performance — has followed in his footsteps.”
Lamont accumulated much of his wealth from his telecommunication company, Campus Televideo, which he sold to Texas-based Apogee in 2015. During Lamont’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for U.S. Senate, Lamont and his wife Annie Lamont — a managing partner at Oak Investment Partners — filed a federal disclosure form reporting a net worth between $90 and $332 million.
According to campaign financing reports, Lamont has spent $12.1 million of his own money on his gubernatorial campaign since January.
“We’ve known all along that he’s an exceptionally wealthy individual,” said Gary Rose, a political science professor at Sacred Heart University. “Lamont has, for all intents and purposes, a bottomless well for funding his campaign.”
Though Lamont previously said he would not release his financial information until his Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski did so, he changed his mind as the election date grew closer.
Stefanowski’s spokesman Kendall Marr said that he has seen the “final details” of Stefanowski’s tax returns and that they will be released “very, very soon.”
Marr said Lamont’s tax returns indicate that he is out of touch with the majority of Connecticut residents. According to Marr, this lack of connection with the real world has caused Lamont to propose tax increases that are unrealistic for many struggling Connecticut residents.
“Connecticut has the second-highest tax burden per capita nationally,” Marr said. “Our families are struggling, and here we have Ned Lamont trying to increase the tax burden.”
Stefanowski’s returns are not yet public, but Rose said that they will likely also indicate significant personal wealth — though not to the same degree as Lamont’s. Before running for office, Stefanowski worked as a divisional chief executive officer for General Electric in Connecticut, the chief financial officer for UBS Investment Bank and the chief executive officer for DFC Global Corp.
According to Rose, both candidates have likely waited until the final weeks of the campaign to release their tax returns in order to avoid opening themselves up to careful scrutiny, even if they have nothing to hide.
“Lamont claims he’s going to be favoring the middle class here in Connecticut,” Rose said. “If middle-class voters a month ago or two months ago knew that he was filing returns of this magnitude, it would have to some extent mitigated his claim that he’s one of the people.”
Independent candidate Oz Griebel was the first in the race to release his tax returns. He released his tax information from the last three years in late September.
According to his returns, Griebel paid approximately $95,000 in taxes for an income of around $400,000 in 2017.
Should Stefanowski not release his tax returns, it would indicate that he likely has something to hide, Rose said. But either way, it might not make much of an impact on the race.
“The issues facing Connecticut today are so severe that people might wince if somebody doesn’t release their tax returns, but they might not hold it against them as much as they would if the problems weren’t so paramount,” Rose said.
According to the latest Sacred Heart University/Hearst Connecticut Media poll, the race is now a toss-up. This survey of likely voters indicated that 39.5 percent support Lamont, 36.1 percent support Stefanowski and 8.4 percent support Griebel. The remaining 15 percent said that they were undecided.
Although Lamont has a lead of 3.4 percentage points, this falls within the poll’s margin of error.
The three candidates are slated to participate in their final debate on Oct. 30.
Nathalie Bussemaker | firstname.lastname@example.org