BILL MINOR: Barbour didn’t set the example on tax return disclosure

“I would,” Haley Barbour told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney should release his income tax returns.

During his eight-year reign in Mississippi, Barbour refused to make public his income tax returns, hiding behind what he called a “blind trust,” something that didn’t exist in state law. In 2008, a patched-together law with little teeth was enacted, only after Barbour vetoed a stronger version.

Recently, Barbour notified the State Ethics Commission that he was withdrawing his blind trust. What a relief. We were worried how Barbour made ends meet on just his $122,000 state salary as governor. Not to worry, though.

We have learned from quarterly asset reports required by the 2008 blind trust law that in 2009 and 2010 Barbour was sitting on substantial wealth – like $3.3 million – and was being paid $25,000 a month from the blind trust. This from the man who said at the outset of his governorship he had severed all ties with BG&R, his old lobby firm, and disposed of shares of Interpublic Group that had become its parent company.

Bill Minor
7/26/12