Mitt Romney announced today that he would release his tax returns for 2011, boosting the transparency of his personal economic dealings to a whopping two years. The Republican candidate for President of the United States previously released only his 2010 returns and an estimate of last year’s filing.
This comes just days after Mother Jones released a secretly taped recording of Romney at a fundraiser in May, when the former Massachusetts governor said the following:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it—that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Aside from saying that half of the people in this country feel like victims who don’t “care for their lives,” much of Romney’s comments were misleading if not flat-out false. Many of the people who pay no income tax are senior citizens and families in poverty, which make up a fair share of people who—against their own interest—plan to vote for Romney. And I’m not sure when the day arrived that health care and food became “entitlements”—especially for someone as “devout” as Romney, who pays an effective tax rate of just 14 percent while donating millions to the Mormon church—but let’s get away from the national scene and drill down into our local candidates’ economic dealings.
Each candidate for San Jose’s City Council is required early in the race to submit a Form 700, which lists their economic interests within city limits, from salary to stock investments to property holdings (not including the home they live in). According to the City Clerk’s office, the truthfulness of the report is dependent on the filer. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) instructs the clerk’s office only to receive the report, not audit or investigate.
With just two races going to a November runoff, District 8 and District 10, let’s look at the four remaining candidates’ forms:
District 10: Robert Braunstein vs. Johnny Khamis
According to Robert Braunstein’s Form 700, his production company, Annabelle Productions, which puts on the high school sports show Cal-High Sports Bay Area, earned him a personal salary between $10,001-$100,000 last year. The company itself made more than $100,000, with sources of income over $10,000 including the San Jose Sharks, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of the West.
He also owns property near Alma Avenue worth between $100,001 and $1 million, which netted him rental income between $1,001 and $10,000. Braunstein’s wife, Ann, also had her income listed on the forms, because she works for San Jose Unified School District. Ann’s salary was listed in the same range as her husband’s.
Braunstein and his wife hold stock in the following companies:
— ADP stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Cisco stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Ford Motor Company stock valued between $10,000-$100,000.
— GE stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Corning Inc. stock valued between $10,000-$100,000.
— Merck & Co. stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Microsoft stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Oracle stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Pfizer stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— QQQ Powershares stock valued between $10,000-$100,000.
— Intel stock valued between $10,000-$100,000.
— Yahoo stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
Johnny Khamis earned between $10,001 and $100,000 for his role as vice president of Western International Securities, located in downtown San Jose, as well as income in the same range from his insurance brokerage, Johnny Khamis Insurance. Khamis also listed ownership of stock in insurance brokerage Western Benefits Solutions in the range of $2,000-$10,000. He listed his business position as CEO. The company reportedly made more than $100,000 in gross income last year.
Khamis’s real estate holdings include a house in Almaden and a home near Communications Hill, each valued between $100,001 and $1 million. The latter home netted rental income in the amount of $10,001 to $100,000. Khamis took out 30-year mortgages on both homes
District 8: Rose Herrera vs. Jimmy Nguyen
Rose Herrera, the incumbent in District 8, made $87,507.72 in salary during 2011, according to the city’s annual salary database. In her form 700, she reported stock holdings from the following sources:
— Sonasoft Corporation stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
— Cisco stock valued between $2,000-$10,000.
Herrera also listed property she owns in the Alum Rock area that resulted in $0-499 in gross income received. She did not list the fair market value of the property.
Jimmy Nguyen didn’t report any economic interests on his Form 700. Nguyen, who said he lives in a house with his brother currently, last worked for Santa Clara County as a mediator after passing the State Bar of California exam in 2011. (Toni Taber, of the City Clerk’s office, told San Jose Inside that listing income received from local government entities is not required because it is already public record.)
Nguyen says he made “less than $5,000” in income last year. When asked how he affords to live, Nguyen said, “Credit cards,” admitting that he has racked up a fair amount of debt.