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Dori: ‘Red flags’ in Jay Inslee tax returns

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Dori Monson says Jay Inslee’s tax returns raise plenty of ‘red flags’ about his financial management (AP image)

Ever since Democrat Jay Inslee released his tax returns last week, Dori Monson has been digging into the numbers. And he says the returns from the gubernatorial hopeful raise some serious “red flags” about Inslee’s fiscal management.

In an interview with Inslee campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford, Monson questioned why Inslee withdrew $45,000 from an individual retirement account and paid $10,000 in taxes to help finance a roof repair.

“That seemed very unusual to me to take a $10,000 tax hit on IRA retirement,” said Monson. “Do they have any savings they could have tapped?”

Inslee reported $237,000 in 2011 income, including his congressional salary, $33,000 from wife Trudi Inslee’s consulting business, and a $45,000 retirement-account withdrawal. They paid about $46,000 in federal income tax and donated $3,600 to charity, according to The Associated Press.

But Clifford said the Inslee’s finances remain tight and they face many of the same struggles other families do.

“The Inslees, I think like a lot of people in Washington, they just finished sending one of their children to college,” said Clifford. “Jay’s had to have a place to live in Washington D.C. in addition to their house here in Washington state and you know those are expenses that add up.”

But Monson argued the lack of savings to pay for the roof raises serious questions about Inslee’s ability to manage the state’s finances.

“If we’re going to ask this person to be in charge of our state, of our state budget, of some real fiscal challenges ahead, if you can’t save any money on nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year, is he going to be fiscally responsible running the state?” Monson asked.

Clifford countered personal finances are not the best barometer to judge a candidate’s qualifications, and pointed instead to Inslee’s record and the campaign budgets for both him and GOP rival Rob McKenna.

“One of the things that’s really jumped out at me over the course of this race is the McKenna campaign has had to amend their campaign finance reports 300 times, which is not an indication to me of someone with real good fiscal management skills.”

Monson also questioned Inslee’s lack of charitable donations, which amounted to about 1 1/2 percent of his income during 2011.

“It just seemed like 1 1/2 percent was a very small amount for somebody as wealthy as they are in income to give to charity,” Monson said.

But Clifford countered Inslee’s time spent volunteering is significant and the family does its fair share.

“Some people give money, some people donate time, some people do as much work for charity as they contribute. So I think the question is, is everyone doing what they can? And the Inslee’s certainly do.”

One of the most troubling aspects of the returns, according to Monson, is a reported loss on a membership at the Wing Point Golf and Country Club on Bainbridge Island. Monson said he consulted with a tax attorney who questioned the legitimacy of the claim and said it could easily trigger a tax audit.

Clifford said the Inslee’s attorney disagreed, but he was seeking clarification. The attorney is reportedly on vacation.

McKenna, meantime, has so far refused to release his tax returns.

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