Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen could soon become one of the wealthiest members of Congress, but the 74-year-old candidate has declined to release his income tax returns.
Bredesen did recently file financial disclosures, which all candidates are required to do, revealing that he had an income of between $3.3 million and $20.1 million from January 2017 to February 2018.
As governor, Bredesen maintained the practice of releasing his tax returns until he departed office in 2011, when he founded his solar energy company Silicon Ranch with two former top aides. The booming solar power producer has platforms in ten different states and has received investments of $100 million from Partners Group and $217 million from Shell.
As a solar energy provider, Silicon Ranch is eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit under the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which was created after the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and maintained under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
In his first bid since launching Silicon Ranch, Bredesen is now declining to release his tax returns, calling the financial disclosures “much more comprehensive.”
“I’m doing what the law requires,” he added. According to The Tennessean, financial disclosure forms provided to the U.S. Senate do not include items such as personal residencies and vehicles.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which upheld the ITC, was criticized by Bredesen for throwing “crumbs” to the middle class.
“I think they did something which was clever politically, but I couldn’t have swallowed morally, which is I think they threw a few crumbs to the middle class to give these huge breaks to wealthier people and corporations and so on,” he said, according to The New York Times. “And I think I would have called that out as strongly as I possible could have.”
The Tennessee Star reached out to Bredesen’s campaign to inquire about any personal benefits he has potentially gained from the ITC, but did not receive a response in time for publication. If elected, the former governor has said that he will step down from his role at Silicon Ranch.
“With Bredesen having criticized the Trump tax cuts as ‘crumbs’ the voters should see exactly how many of these crumbs Bredesen has put into his pockets, particularly when it is likely that much of his income has come from government contracts and taxpayer subsidized tax credits,” Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill says.
“He has apparently made a fortune making the transition from running a government to profiting from government. Taxpayers should know exactly how he did it, how much he benefitted from his position in government and which of his cronies prospered with him. It all looks pretty swampy and the ability to resolve the lack of transparency rests solely with him,” Gill adds.