With the midterm elections looming, the candidates looking to become Oklahoma’s next governor have been railing against government waste and a lack of financial transparency. However, only two of the three have made their own finances public.
Democratic Drew Edmondson, released his tax returns to the nonprofit outlet Oklahoma Watch back in August.
According to those returns, Edmondson and his wife Linda made $313,135 in 2017. The Edmondsons made $101,213 from Edmondson's consulting business, $148,268 in pension payments and $40,564 from social security. They also own their Oklahoma City home and a 1/6 share of some rural Adair County land.
Libertarian Chris Powell released his returns after a request from News9/Newson6. Powell and his wife Amy made $84,261 in 2017 solely from wages. Powell works for the Oklahoma City Police Department as a civilian employee. His wife for an Oklahoma City law firm. The couple also owns their Bethany home.
Republican Kevin Stitt did not release his tax returns. Stitt's campaign stopped responding to our requests. But a recent assessment in the Birkshire Hathaway run Bussiness Wire, of his privately held company Gateway Mortgage said Gateway is on track to handle a portfolio worth $26 billion this year.
Transparency experts say while tax returns may not seem like a lot, when it comes to voters more information is always better.
“We the public pay their salaries,” said Freedom of Information – Oklahoma Executive Director Andy Moore who also noted tax returns have become a staple of American political life. “This is our taxpayer dollars that are going to this and for the position of governor they're leading our state. I think the people have the right to know who these people are.”
Oklahoma stopped requiring candidates for statewide offices to release their tax returns in 2015. They are required to submit a very limited summary of their finances to the state in order to file for office, but those are not as extensive or potentially telling as an official tax return.