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Wagner says his tax returns could be used by unions to recruit his employees

September 10, 2018 GMT

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner shed more light this week on his decision not to release his tax returns, saying at a town hall meeting Monday in Erie that his income might encourage employees of his waste-hauling business to unionize.

Wagner’s decision not to release his tax returns goes against at least two decades of tradition for major-party general election candidates. He has complied with state laws requiring less-comprehensive financial disclosures but has said his finances are no one else’s business.

Wagner restated his compliance with state rules in response to a question about his tax returns at the town hall, which was recorded and posted online by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Then he brought up the unions, saying, “If I disclose those tax returns, union representatives get a hold of my tax returns, go around to my employees’ homes at night and say, ‘Hey Mrs. Jones, how much does your husband make?’ She goes, ‘Well he makes this.’ ‘Well this guy makes a lot more.’”

He said in the video that he had worked hard and taken risks to grow his business, Penn Waste, over 40 years.

The trash-hauling industry is regulated by the state. When asked earlier this year about potential conflicts of interest, Wagner said his company’s bids for contracts are publicly viewable.

Gov. Tom Wolf has made the first two pages of his tax returns from 2010 through 2016 available and has offered to let reporters review the full returns in person. He has said he will make the 2017 returns available as well, but he has sought an extension on that year’s returns.