In the four years since Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski first ran for governor, he says he has supported himself by working as a consultant.
While he’s again asking voters to put him in charge of Connecticut, he has yet to divulge his clients or other details about his finances.
Stefanowksi first announced his candidacy in January and received state GOP endorsement at the convention last month. He said on Wednesday that his personal financial information would be available, including tax returns for him and his wife, but did not provide a time frame.
Candidates have long been expected to publicly disclose information about their personal finances, including taxes, said Gary Rose, chair of the government department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
As wealthier candidates with little or no prior elective service run for office in Connecticut, often funding their own campaigns, he said it’s more important that this information is communicated to voters.
“It’s important to know what their relationship has 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 criticized him for not being more forthcoming.
“When he ran in 2018, Bob refused to share tax records until the final days of the campaign. In 2022, it looks like he’s doing the same thing, what’s Bob hiding? Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said.
During his business career, Stefanowski, 60, worked for General Electric and investment bank UBS before becoming CEO of a global payday loan company. He is also a Chartered Accountant and Financial Analyst and author of two books on mergers and acquisitions.
According to his Linkedin account, Stefanowski also served on the advisory board on mergers and acquisitions at consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Stefanowski provided little information about his consulting work. Asked on Wednesday what kind of companies he worked with, he said it could be discussed at a later date: “We can get through all of this. I will release what I can. What I can release ethically and legally.
He added: “In a consulting firm, there is always confidential information.”
The GOP nominee 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 amounts of their own campaign money this year, foregoing public campaign funding. While Stefanowski has loaned his campaign about $10 million so far, money that could eventually be repaid by the campaign, Lamont would have to foot most of the bill for his run himself. A former founder of a cable television company, Lamont takes no salary as a governor and has mostly self-funded his previous campaigns for governor and the U.S. Senate.
The Lamont campaign in April allowed reporters to examine a summary of the governor’s adjusted gross income, effective tax rate, total charitable contributions, and state and federal taxes for the years 2018-20. Journalists were also allowed to review redacted details of his statements.
The governor — who files his taxes separately from his wife, Annie, a venture capitalist — has not released his 2021 returns. His campaign said he has requested an IRS filing extension.
Stefanowski said he would eventually release more financial information than Lamont.
“We will be releasing returns for 2019, 2020, 2021. This will include our family income,” he said. “My disclosure is going to be the most significant, probably in Connecticut history, from a governor, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Stefanowski faulted 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 co-founded by Annie Lamont, has with various companies working with the state of Connecticut, including a former vendor contracted by the state to provide COVID-19 testing services. Lamont said the company, Sema4, did not make a profit. If so, he said, the money would be donated.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Connecticut taxpayers to ask the governor’s family to release these numbers,” Stefanowski said.
Rose said he also thinks Annie Lamont should disclose tax information.
All state elected officials, members of the General Assembly, and other state officials are required in Connecticut to file a declaration of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the Ethics Office of the state.
Ned and Annie Lamont have filed a special 16-page plan with state ethics officials that attempts to eliminate the possibility of a material or potential conflict of interest 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 who proactively recuse themselves from any action involving the Oak HC/FT portfolio companies.