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Democrat Shri Thanedar releases tax returns in Michigan governor race

MACKINAC ISLAND –  Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar on Wednesday released his 2015 and 2016 tax returns and other financial details, and says he plans to release his 2017 returns as soon as they are filed.

The disclosures show the Ann Arbor entrepreneur has assets of about $30 million, making him most likely the wealthiest candidate in the the race for governor. Republican candidate Bill Schuette disclosed more than $13 million in assets  last week.

The release followed requests Bridge Magazine made of all candidates for governor of their tax returns and other financial documents. Michigan voters, and many of the candidates themselves, have called for greater transparency among candidates for political office. Michigan has been rated last nationally in government transparency.

Thanedar’s tax returns’ total income for those two years was $19.66 million, and he paid $4.45 million in federal taxes over that time.

    Thanedar was the last major party candidate to release his financial information to Bridge Magazine, which asked the candidates to do so by mid-May. Thanedar told Bridge on Wednesday its deadline was “arbitrary” and “it took me a bit of time to put it all together.”

    “We still have two months (until the Democratic primary election). There’s plenty of time for voters to look at me,” Thanedar said.

    His campaign manager, the Rev. David Alexander Bullock, said Thanedar received an extension on his 2017 tax return.

    In a written statement accompanying the financial disclosure, Thanedar said “from the start of this campaign, I’ve said Michigan voters have the right to know the financial backgrounds of any candidate for office.”

    Born poor in India, Thanedar’s up-from-nothing story is the centerpiece of his campaign, but his business history increasingly has come under scrutiny as he has gained momentum in the three-candidate race for the Democratic nomination. Some polls show he is leading Gretchen Whitmer, a former Senate minority leader, and Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, the city of Detroit’s former health director, perhaps in part because Thanedar has donated $6 million of his fortune to the campaign.

    Thanedar’s pharmaceutical testing companies floundered during the Great Recession and a bank foreclosed on his Missouri mansion. But he rebuilt his fortune in Michigan, founding Avomeen Analytical Services in 2010.

    The 2016 tax return largely reflects money he made from selling the company’s majority share that year: It shows he made $17.6 million that year, compared to $2.06 million the year before.

    The purchaser of the company, High Street Capital, sued Thanedar in November, alleging he fraudulently inflated the value of the company. Thanedar denies the claims.

    The financial disclosures show Thanedar distributed $1.5 million in bonuses to his employees following the Michigan company’s sale.

    In 2015 and 2016, the returns also show he:

    • Made nearly $80,000 in dividends as part of a stock and bond portfolio estimated at $16 million to $18 million.
    • Retains a 40 percent share of Avomeen worth an estimated $5 million to $10 million.
    • Has a home worth $800,000 in Ann Arbor and owes about $600,000 on its mortgage.
    • Has about $3 million in commercial real estate holdings

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