In a statement that notes Gibbons’ own recent release of such information as well as full or incomplete release of income tax information by most other gubernatorial candidates, both Republican and Democratic, the Memphis district attorney general heads quickly to his point:
“…Mayor Bill Haslam, has refused to disclose any income tax returns and refused to release any information on the amount of income earned from his family business, Pilot Oil Company, along with federal income taxes paid on that income. He has chosen to keep that information secret...”
Gibbons continues, in terms almost like those of an indictment:
“Mayor Haslam chose to run for governor. He should understand that the public has a right to know his income and its sources, even though it is an intrusion on his privacy. There should be no secrets.
”The extent of Mayor Haslam's income from Pilot Oil will tell the public whether his interest constitutes a minor conflict of interest or a big one. The public deserves to know.
”Mayor Haslam did release a summary of what he says is his non-Pilot Oil income for certain years, along with federal taxes paid on that income. That summary shows an average of only about 12 percent of his non-Pilot Oil income being paid in federal taxes, and only about five percent for 2008. Does Mayor Haslam have tax shelters that could pose additional conflicts? The only way to find out is through the release of complete income tax returns.”
In conversations over the weekend, Gibbons expressed disappointment in what he considered lack of zeal by members of the media in seeking answers to such questions, which he had previously raised. He noted that conflict-of-interest issues had loomed large in government and politics in recent years.
Among Republican gubernatorial candidates, Gibbons now occupies something of an underdog’s role, at least where fundraising is concerned. The most recent filing showed him trailing Haslam in fundraising by roughly $5 ½ million to $500,000, while two other Republican candidates, 3rd District congressman Zach Wamp and Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, were in the $2 million range.