State Treasurer John Chiang, a candidate for governor of California in 2018, is introduced during a breakfast meeting at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia with California delegates during the Democratic National Convention on Monday, July 25, 2016. Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com
State Treasurer John Chiang, a candidate for governor of California in 2018, is introduced during a breakfast meeting at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia with California delegates during the Democratic National Convention on Monday, July 25, 2016. Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com

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Capitol Alert

John Chiang lives on a public servant’s salary, his tax forms show

By Christopher Cadelago

ccadelago@sacbee.com

September 29, 2017 03:23 PM

UPDATED September 30, 2017 08:46 AM

Pasadena

Democrat John Chiang, a candidate for California governor in 2018, and his wife earned an average of nearly $185,000 a year in income and paid a combined tax rate of more than 23 percent, according to six years of returns reviewed Friday by The Sacramento Bee.

The first five years of the returns were filed jointly with his wife. They have since legally separated. Chiang’s 2016 return shows he reported an adjusted gross income of $133,937 from his salary as the state treasurer. Her name and information was redacted on the documents he provided.

Chiang’s earnings largely reflect the wages he earned while serving in office. As state controller, his salary was $139,189 in 2011-12. He was elected treasurer in 2014, earning more than $140,000 at the time.

He is the second candidate in next year’s race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown to release his tax returns, a demonstration of transparency that has become customary for candidates in high-profile statewide contests.

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The issue has taken on an added layer of partisanship as Democrats across the country demand that Republican President Donald Trump, a wealthy developer and former reality television star, make public his returns. A state bill awaiting action from Brown would prohibit the secretary of state from putting a presidential candidate’s name on the ballot in California if he or she has not released five years of recent tax returns.

In May, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the frontrunner in the governor’s race, released returns for a six-year period showing that he and his wife made more than $1 million annually and gave away about $100,000 a year to charitable causes. Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom averaged $1.45 million a year in income and paid about 26 percent in federal taxes and 9.5 percent in state taxes between 2015 and 2010.

The Newsoms made several hundred thousand dollars a year in income from wine and hospitality companies in which he has investments.

At the time the Newsoms offered their returns for review, Democratic gubernatorial rival Antonio Villaraigosa promised at least three years of his tax documents, but has yet to make them available for inspection.

Newsom spokesman Dan Newman used Chiang’s release Friday to take a swipe at the competition.

“Belatedly following Newsom’s lead is a step in the right direction,” Newman said in a statement, “and it vastly heightens curiosity about Villaraigosa’s refusal to tell voters who pays him and why.”

Villaraigosa, who left office in 2013, has served as an adviser to the controversial nutrition company Herbalife. He also has worked for Banc of California, which he has called “the gold standard for community reinvestment.”

His spokesman Luis Vizcaino replied that “Mayor Villaraigosa will keep his commitment to release his taxes and will do so soon.”

Chiang’s returns from 2016 to 2011 show he donated to charities an average of $3,682 per year. Among the organizations listed over the years are Aiden’s Red Envelope Foundation, Jewish Family Service, Asian American Advancing Justice, San Francisco RBI and Liberty Hill Foundation.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago