Gov. Mark Dayton donated $10,000 of his personal wealth to charity last year
Gov. Mark Dayton's 2013 tax return was released last week and shows that he gave $10,000 to charities -- 10 times as much as last year.
His office did not respond to our request for comment, but judging by previous news coverage, the boost came in response to the governor's own criticism last November. When asked then about the mere $1,000 he had donated, he told reporters, "I'm disappointed in myself."
Dayton earned less in 2013 than in past years, but his income still places him among the richest Minnesotans. The heir to the Dayton's department store fortune made most of his wealth without lifting a finger -- $163,405 in capital gains and $73,062 in dividends -- plus $116,092 in salary, for a total of $352,601. His effective tax rate was 30 percent, meaning he paid $76,008 to the feds and $29,932 to the state.
To his credit, Dayton has released his financial data (or part of it) every year since running for the governor's office. In 2009, for instance, he claimed nearly $27,000 in charitable contributions. The largest of those went to Planned Parenthood, MinnPost, and YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. (It's not immediately clear who benefited in 2013, but take a look at the returns on the next page.)
In years past, he's also pressured his Republican challengers to release their returns. So we went looking ourselves. Jeff Johnson's campaign intends to make those public this week, and Kurt Zellers's people say they're working on it. No one from Scott Honour's camp returned our message.
Marty Seifert straight-up declined our request, saying in an emailed statement,
I don't think our income tax return is anyone's business, but can assure you our household income is less than the other GOP candidates and much less than Governor Dayton.
So why not prove it? We asked one of his handlers for an explanation, but never heard back.
Candidates are not required to release their financial data in Minnesota, but they are required to file an economic interest statement with the campaign finance and public disclosure board.
Seifert's shows that he runs Seifert Properties, LLC, which owns eight pieces of property in Lyon and Redwood counties (and has ties to two more). The candidate also owns shares of a Putnam Investments growth fund and sits on the board of governors for both Granite Falls Energy, LLC, and Heron Lake BioEnergy, LLC.
Seifert might not care for it, but plenty of other pols do. In fact, the tradition of releasing tax returns comes from our 38th president. After Richard Nixon's resignation -- and an IRS scandal now overshadowed by Watergate -- Gerald Ford used his financial records to prove to the public that he himself was not a crook. Politicians across the country followed suit, believing, as Johnson campaign manager Scot Crockett put it, "voters deserve transparency from their elected officials."
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