COLUMBUS — In his final year on the job as managing director for Lehman Brothers, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich was paid $614,892, which included a base salary of $182,692 and more than twice that amount in a bonus, $432,200.
Part of his salary included about six weeks with Barclay Capital, the company that purchased a portion of Lehman Brothers after the infamous global financial services company filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008.
On Friday, after months of being pelted with questions by Democrats regarding his income from Lehman Brothers, Kasich made public his tax returns for the year 2008, which he filed in 2009.
Democrats want to brand Kasich as a Wall Street insider, a profiteer who pocketed millions of dollars while hundreds of thousands of average Joes and Jills lost their shirts, shoes, savings and homes in the nation’s economic meltdown.
By not disclosing his income, Kasich continued to give Democrats the opportunity to not only ask questions, but also to wildly speculate about his potential for self-dealing.
For example, Democrats wondered aloud (especially when any media were within 100 yards) whether Kasich received a generous golden parachute from Lehman Brothers right before the firm tanked.
On Friday, two press people for Kasich called in reporters one by one and provided each with a peek at Kasich’s 2008 taxes and an advance copy of the financial disclosure form that by law is due Monday.
There was no golden parachute.
The $432,200 bonus Kasich was paid in 2008 was for his work in 2007. Lehman Brothers waited until a calendar year was closed, calculated and paid the bonuses on Jan. 31.
Kasich did not receive a bonus in 2009 for his work in 2008, a point his campaign spokesmen emphasized.
His tax returns also reveal that Lehman Brothers and Barclays were not his sole source of income in 2008. He was paid $265,000 as a Fox News commentator, $165,719 in speaking fees and $61,538 as an associate at the Schottenstein Property Group.
Kasich earned $45,426 as a lecturer and presidential fellow for Ohio State University and $77,273 to sit on the board of directors for two companies: Invacare and Worthington Industries.
He also earned $121,922 in interest and dividends on investments and $51 from book-sale royalties.
Not bad work if you can get it.
In all, Kasich’s gross unadjusted income, including $19,777 from his wife, Karen, for investments and communications work, $14,739 in a state tax refund and other funds was $1,386,648. Their taxable income, after $241,492 in deductions for a variety of pretax expenses ranging from health care to Social Security, was $1,145,156.
The candidate (who wants to phase out the income tax in Ohio) and his wife paid $463,288 in taxes in 2008 and gave $27,326 to charity.
According to his financial disclosure statement, Kasich continues to work for Schottenstein and Fox News, and earns money as a lecturer and author and on investments.
The gifts he listed show Kasich has endeared himself to a diverse group, ranging from the (Bill) O’Reilly Factor show staff to Paul Hewson, whom most of the world knows as U2’s lead singer, Bono.
So now you and the Democrats are privy to Kasich’s personal financial information, which most citizens would hold private and dear, except he is running for the highest state office and once was employed by a company that is considered a symbol for greed in America.
Democrats immediately attacked Kasich for providing too little information and demanded he produce tax returns for each of the seven years he worked at Lehman Brothers.
A spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party pointed out that Kasich’s salary for 2008 would have been $243,589.32 if he had worked for Lehman Brothers in the fourth quarter of the year, and that Gov. Ted Strickland released his income tax returns from 2000 to 2005 before running for governor.
Kasich has opened up just enough to hush some critics, and he has proven Democrats wrong in asserting he reaped huge benefits from the demise of Lehman Brothers.
Still, as Strickland runs for re-election this year, Democrats will continue to try to link the two — Kasich and Lehman Brothers — as one in the minds of the electorate.
And although Kasich made a smart move Friday to counterattack the Democrats, we really won’t know until November whether voters view him as just another handsomely paid former Lehman Brothers employee or will hold the job against him at the polls.
Dennis J. Willard can be reached at 614-224-1613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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