NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the heels of three guilty pleas tied to a scandal embroiling Gov. Bill Haslam’s Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, the Tennessee Democratic Party is calling for the governor to release his tax returns and show how much he makes annually from Pilot Oil and other investments.
On Tuesday, three more Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme that padded corporate profits by defrauding small business owners and trucking companies of millions worth of rebates. Two additional employees of the $30 billion company pleaded guilty in May.
“With five guilty pleas, we know Gov. Haslam’s company Pilot Oil stole from working and middle class family businesses, but the question of how much money poured into the governor’s personal fortune from this fraud remains unanswered,” said Brandon Puttbrese, party spokesman. “We don’t know because Gov. Haslam is hiding his income.”
For years, Republican and Democratic governors in Tennessee have embraced the values of open and honest governing by voluntarily releasing their tax returns.
“Tennesseans are due the same financial transparency from Haslam that other governors — whose companies weren’t the subject of fraud investigations — have shown,” Puttbrese said. “It is clear Haslam prefers to work in secret, but our democracy is built on accountability, and we can’t hold politicians accountable when they refuse to come clean on simple matters like releasing their tax returns.”
In May, the TNDP posted an online petition asking citizens to add their name in support of calling on the governor to release his tax returns.
Haslam Broke “Tradition” of Releasing Returns. Bill Haslam’s refusal to release his tax returns during the gubernatorial campaign (and in years following) breaks “a long tradition of governors disclosing their returns voluntarily. Republican governors including Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist did so, along with Democrats including Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.” [KnoxNews.com, 10/9/11]
Haslam’s First Decision As Governor: Hide Pilot Income. “Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed an executive order that eliminates a requirement for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn.” [Associated Press, KnoxNews.com, 1/16/11]