In run for governor, Stefanowski has yet to detail finances

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — In the four years since Republican businessperson Bob Stefanowski first ran for governor, he says he has supported himself with work as a consultant. As he again asks voters to put him in charge of Connecticut, he has yet to disclose his clients or other details of his finances.

Stefanowksi first announced his candidacy in January and received the state GOP’s endorsement at the convention last month. He said Wednesday that his personal financial information will be forthcoming, including tax returns for him and his wife, but did not provide a time frame.

There has long been an expectation that candidates publicly release information about their personal finances, including taxes, said Gary Rose, chair of the department of government at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. As more wealthy candidates with little to no prior elective service run for office in Connecticut, often funding their own campaigns, he said it’s more important for that information to be released to the voters.

“It’s important to know what their connections have been,” he said. “It tells a story.”

As in 2018, when Stefanowski waited until late October to publicly release a summary of his taxes, Democrats have criticized him for not being more forthcoming.

“When he ran in 2018, Bob refused to share tax records until the last days of the campaign. In 2022, it looks like he’s doing the same thing, What’s Bob hiding?” Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo said.

In his business career, Stefanowski, 60, worked for General Electric and investment bank UBS before becoming CEO of a global payday lending company† He’s also a certified public accountant and financial analyst and author of two books on mergers and acquisitions. According to his Linkedin account, Stefanowski has also served on the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm’s mergers & acquisitions advisory board.

Stefanowski has provided little information about his work as a consultant. Asked Wednesday what type of businesses he worked with, he said that could be discussed at some future date: “We can go through all this. I’m going to release what I can. What ethically and legally I can release.”

He added: “In a consulting firm, there’s always confidential information.”

The GOP candidate said Wednesday that he plans to release tax returns for 2019, 2020 and 2021 and will include “our family income,” including all of his investments.

Stefanowski and Gov. Ned Lamont, the Democrat who won in 2018, are each spending large sums of their own money on their campaign this year, forgoing public campaign financing. While Stefanowski has loaned his campaign about $10 million so far, money that could eventually be repaid by the campaign, Lamont is expected to foot most of the bill himself for his race. The former founder of a cable TV company, Lamont does not accept a salary as governor and mostly self-funded his previous campaigns for governor and US Senate.

The Lamont campaign in April allowed reporters to review a summary of the governor’s adjusted gross income, effective tax rate, total charitable contributions and state and federal taxes for years 2018-2020. Reporters were also allowed to review redacted details of his returns. The governor — who files his taxes separately from his wife, Annie, a venture capital consultant — did not release his 2021 returns. His campaign said he requested a filing extension from the IRS.

Stefanowski said he will ultimately release more financial information than Lamont.

“We’re going to release returns for 2019, 2020, 2021. It’s going to include our family income,” he said. “My disclosure is going to be the most, probably in the history of Connecticut, from a governor, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Stefanowski has criticized Lamont for not providing voters with more information about his wife’s finances, especially given the ties that Oak HC/FT, the Greenwich venture capital firm cofounded by Annie Lamont, has had with various companies working with the state of Connecticut, including a former vendor contracted by the state to provide COVID-19 testing services. Lamont has said the company, Sema4, has not made a profit† If it did, he said, the money would be donated.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the taxpayers of Connecticut to ask for the governor’s family to release those numbers,” Stefanowski said.

Rose said he also believes Annie Lamont should release tax information.

All statewide elected officials, members of the General Assembly and other state officials are required in Connecticut to file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the Office of State Ethics.

Ned and Annie Lamont filed a special 16-page plan with state ethics officials that attempts to eliminate the possibility of a substantial conflict of interest or potential conflict involving Annie Lamont. The office concluded in 2019 that the steps taken by the couple to adhere to state ethics rules were “adequate to better ensure compliance.” They include the couple proactively recusing themselves from taking any action that involves Oak HC/FT portfolio companies.

This story has been corrected to show Bob Stefanowski’s age is 60, not 59.

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