Ken Cuccinelli to release 8 years of tax returns in Virginia governor's race

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican running for governor, will make his tax returns public Thursday and he is pressuring Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe to do the same.

In a rare move for a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Cuccinelli will allow reporters to view his tax returns from the past eight years at his Springfield campaign office Thursday and Friday. The Republican said the decision to make his returns public "will hopefully provide voters more information as they decide who to support this fall."

"I am confident my background and record of accomplishment will prevail on Election Day and I look forward to working to create more jobs and economic opportunities throughout the commonwealth," Cuccinelli said.

McAuliffe's campaign immediately dismissed Cuccinelli's announcement as a stunt meant to distract voters from an ongoing controversy involving the attorney general's office and Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. Cuccinelli owns stock in the supplement maker and he increased his holdings even as the company sued the state over back taxes.

"Instead of trying to distract from legitimate questions about his personal financial conflict of interest with a company he was supposed to be pursuing for unpaid taxes, 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," said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.

McAuliffe's campaign would not say if the candidate would release his taxes. The former Democratic National Committee chairman was required by law last month to disclose his financial investments but he did not have to reveal how much he paid in state and federal taxes.

In pressuring McAuliffe to release his taxes, Cuccinelli is taking a page out of President Obama's playbook. For months, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was bogged down by accusations from Obama and Democrats that the former Massachusetts governor was hiding something after he refused to make his tax returns public.

At the height of the debate last year, McAuliffe appeared at a D.C. forum with Romney adviser and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, and the Democrat said the presidential candidate should release his taxes if he wanted to end the attacks.

"[Romney has] been in business, and at the time tax shelters were legal, and maybe there's some things in there where he didn't pay taxes. He was legally entitled not to do it, but by not putting it out there, you're letting everybody's imagination run wild," McAuliffe said. "I would lance it."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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