gubernatorial candidates gov governor's race

Candidates for South Carolina governor, from left to right, top to bottom in alphabetical order: Kevin Bryant (Republican), Yancey McGill (R), Henry McMaster (R), Phil Noble (Democrat), James Smith (D), Catherine Templeton (R), John Warren (R) and Marguerite Willis (D). Provided

Update: James Smith released his income taxes 

COLUMBIA — Two South Carolina candidates for governor and their spouses earned an average of more than $1 million a year in recent years, according to their income tax returns.

Republican attorney Catherine Templeton of Mount Pleasant and her husband, Morgan, averaged nearly $1.1 million in 2014 and 2015.

Democrat antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis of Florence earned $1.7 million in 2015 and $1.4 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, made almost $433,000 a year on average from 2014 to 2016. GOP Greenville businessman John Warren earned an average of nearly $480,000 for the same period.

The families of Democrat Phil Noble and Republicans, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, earned $101,000 to $157,000 a year on average during a recent three-year span, a review of their returns by The Post and Courier showed.

Wills and Templeton paid about one-third of their total income in taxes, while McMaster paid about 25 percent on average from 2014 to 2016.

Taxes for the others — Bryant, Noble, McGill And Warren — covered 10.5 percent to 12 percent of their total income.

The Post and Courier asked the five Republicans and three Democrats who filed to run for governor for copies of their federal tax returns and accompanying forms from 2014 to 2016. The latest returns are not due until April 17.

Democratic state Rep. James Smith of Columbia was the only candidate who declined to give copies of his returns. He said he will share them at a later date.

Four candidates complied fully with the newspaper’s request first made on March 14 — Bryant, McMaster, McGill and Noble.

The information included details about their businesses:

• The McMasters’ real estate rental business generates about $300,000 a year in profit.

• Bryant’s pharmacy lost $61,000 in 2016, clawing back much of the profits made in the two previous years. Bryant said the loss came after the pharmacy did not receive reimbursement for some expensive medical equipment.

• McGill’s Kingstree real estate firm is losing about $20,000 a year. McGill says his business suffered because of his life in public service.

• Noble's makes about $47,000 a year from his Charleston business and technology consulting firm.

Other candidates for governor were not as forthcoming with information.

Templeton provided just main 1040 forms for her and her husband, who also is an attorney. The first-time candidate did not send any additional forms and tax statements, including any information about her consulting firm, Brawley Templeton.

“This is all the Templetons will be releasing because these returns confirm they pay their taxes just like the rest of us,” campaign spokesman Mark Powell said.

Willis provided the 1040 forms for her and her husband, Darlington County Economic Development Director Frank Willis, for 2015 and 2016. Willis, running in her first election, did not send any tax information for 2014.

Willis’ campaign did not want release more details about her family’s taxes until her returns were reviewed by her law firm, Nexsen Pruet.

Warren, who owns real estate lender Lima One Capital, submitted more complete returns than the attorneys, but some key forms were missing and some information was blacked out.

He did not include details on $715,000 in non-cash charitable contributions made over a three-year period that lowered his taxable income sharply. He received $122,500 in tax refunds as a result of his deductions. By comparison, McMaster paid $42,000 to the IRS after filing his returns, while Templeton sent nearly $70,000 and Willis paid $161,000. Bryant received $38,500 in refunds from 2014 to 2016.

The names of partnerships listed Warren's returns also were redacted. These are the source of the businessman's non-cash charitable contributions, his campaign said. The Warrens have purchased and contribute property for conservation outside Charlotte and in Horry County, the campaign said, without providing additional details. The Warrens won't reveal the names of the partnerships because they include people not running for office. 

In forms his campaign included, Warren gave at least $142,000 of his $160,000 in cash charitable donations over three years to Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville.

McMaster has donated $41,500 to First Presbyterian Church in Columbia and $9,000 to the University of South Carolina where he was in charge of fundraising for the new law school.

Bryant donated a total of $52,000 to charities over three years, while McGill contributed $29,000. Their returns did not list who received the donations. McGill said much of his contributions went to his church.

Bryant declined to share his recipients citing a Bible verse from the book of Matthew — "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.