Ken Cuccinelli takes page from Obama playbook, calls on Terry McAuliffe to release tax returns

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican running for governor, made $194,398 last year and paid a combined $10,881 in state and federal taxes, according to newly released tax returns.

Cuccinelli on Thursday made public his tax returns from the past eight years in an attempt to pressure his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, a multimillionaire and successful businessman, into doing the same.

"Throughout my public career, I have always endeavored to demonstrate a commitment to transparency and accountability," Cuccinelli said. "I am confident my background and record of accomplishment will prevail on Election Day."

Cuccinelli's income over the past eight years ranged from a high of $264,296 in 2005 to a low of $134,078 in 2009, his last full year in the state Senate. His returns were filed jointly with his wife, Alice Monteiro. His current salary as attorney general is $150,000.

Figures released by the campaign show that the family gave more than $50,000 to churches and charities over the eight-year span. The most Cuccinelli donated in a single year was $14,183 in 2010, his first year as attorney general.

More than half of Cuccinelli's charitable contributions went to churches and Christian charities. The two largest contributions listed on the returns are a donation of $9,045 to Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville and $5,630 to St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Clifton.

Cuccinelli is releasing his tax returns largely to pressure McAuliffe to make his public. The Republican is taking a page from the playbook of President Obama, who challenged Republican Mitt Romney to release his tax returns during the 2012 campaign and then made an issue of Romney's refusal to do so. Cuccinelli's campaign indicated that he's ready to do the same thing as Obama.

"Today is Day One of Terry McAuliffe refusing to release his tax returns," Cuccinelli's campaign said in a release Thursday.

McAuliffe has so far given no indication that he intends to release his returns. McAuliffe's campaign immediately dismissed Cuccinelli's release as an attempt to divert attention from Cuccinelli's failure to disclose his financial ties to the Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc.

Cuccinelli recently came under fire when Democrats learned he had invested in the company even after it sued the state over back taxes, a case that Cuccinelli, as Virginia's top lawyer, would have handled. He first purchased the shares in October 2010, his tax returns show, and sold them between June 29 and July 2 for $4,040.71.

"After improperly failing to disclose his financial ties to Star Scientific ... Ken Cuccinelli is intent on distracting from his ongoing scandal," said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. "Cuccinelli should tell Virginians about his contact with [Star Scientific CEO] Jonnie Williams, his involvement in the tax dispute and the reasons for purchasing stock in the company after he was supposed to be representing Virginia in a lawsuit involving the company."

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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