First Haslam order: secrecy

Governor, top aides no longer required to disclose outside income

ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press

Monday, January 17, 2011

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam on Saturday signed an executive order that eliminates requirements for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn in outside income.

Under the order released Sunday, a day after he took office, the disclosure rules applying to the governor and senior administration officials will be the same as those for members of the General Assembly. Those require officials to list sources of outside income, but not how much they earn. State government salaries will remain public information.

The move wipes off the books the first executive order signed by Haslam's predecessor, Democrat Phil Bredesen, after he took office in 2003. That order required top executive branch officials to make annual reports about their total earnings.

Bredesen, who earned his personal fortune as a health care entrepreneur before becoming a politician, disclosed in reports earning about $31.5 million in taxable income between 2003 and 2009.

Haslam was heavily criticized during the governor's race last year for refusing to say how much he earned from family-owned Pilot, a national truck stop chain with annual revenues of about $20 billion. But Haslam argued that releasing his Pilot earnings would reveal personal information about family members not running for office as well as proprietary information about the privately held company.

The new governor has said he will not accept a state salary.

Haslam's Cabinet appointments have drawn heavily from the private sector, where personal disclosures about income are less common. They include:

-- Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, founder and managing director of investment firm Hagerty Peterson & Co.

-- Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau, a partner at the Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis.

-- Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes, the former CEO of tire-maker Bridgestone Americas.

-- Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts, a director at Miller Industries Inc. of Greeneville, the world's largest manufacturer of towing and recovery vehicles.

Haslam also signed two additional executive orders on his first weekend. One establishes open government principles and training requirements in the executive branch. The other prohibits discrimination in government hiring practices on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation or disabilities.

The open government order states "it is the unwavering policy of the Executive Branch to facilitate the right of Tennesseans to know and have access to information with which they may hold state government accountable."

The order also retains a website created by the Bredesen administration that details state government spending and salaries.

"The rule should be the more you can be in the open, the better," Haslam said in a statement.





Knoxnews Blog - - Humphrey on the hill


Gibbons Renews Call on Haslam to "End Secrecy"

Tom Humphrey

A day after a Tennessee Newspaper Network story on Democratic gubernatorial candidates disclosing their income tax returns, Republican candidate Bill Gibbons has issued a statement urging fellow GOP contender Bill Haslam to "end his secrecy."

Here it is:

Memphis, TN - Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Gibbons today issued the following statement praising some of his fellow candidates for releasing copies of their income tax returns, while urging Bill Haslam to end his secrecy:

"I commend four other candidates for governor - Congressman Zach Wamp, State Senator Jim Kyle, former State Representative Kim McMillan, and businessman Mike McWherter - for joining me in disclosing their income tax returns for certain years.

"Governor Phil Bredesen has stated that, while disclosure of income tax returns is an intrusion on his privacy, he is obligated to make such a disclosure. He is right on both points.

"All of us who are running for governor and who have disclosed our income tax returns in full know that we have an obligation to the public to do so, even though it is an intrusion on our privacy and the privacy of our families.

"One other candidate - State Senator Ron Ramsey - has disclosed his federal income tax 1040 forms for certain years but none of the schedules. I hope he will change his mind and release the accompanying schedules as well.

"The other candidate, 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.
"(Another candidate, Mike McWherter, released income tax returns showing income from two sub chapter S family-owned corporations.)
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.

"Senator Lamar Alexander has said that releasing income tax returns helps taxpayers determine whether a candidate's income represents a conflict of interest. He is absolutely correct. All candidates for governor should release their complete income tax returns for an appropriate number of years.

"There is no more reliable and trustworthy source to determine whether a candidate has a conflict of interest and the extent of any such conflict."