In this season of giving, The State Journal-Register asked the candidates to release copies of their 2004 federal tax returns to document charitable donations during the year. The candidates also were asked for information about where they direct their charitable contributions.
Eleven candidates released their returns. Two declined, citing privacy concerns. Others did not refuse the request but also didn't supply the returns.
Candidates were asked for their tax returns because they are legal documents, subject to penalties if inaccurate. Several candidates said they donated money or services to charities that they didn't report on their tax forms, but in most cases, there was no way to verify that.
The newspaper compared the contributions claimed as deductions on the federal tax returns to the adjusted gross income reported by the candidates. One stood out, both in total contributions and percentage of income given to charity - Ron Gidwitz, Republican candidate for governor and multimillionaire former head of Helene Curtis cosmetics.
In 2004, Gidwitz reported an adjusted gross income of $1.86 million, most of it from capital gains, interest and dividends. That year, he took a $675,000 deduction for contributions to charities, including about $302,000 in cash contributions and $373,000 in non-cash. That means he gave more than 36 percent of his 2004 income to charity.
However, Gidwitz said he donates even more to charity. He provided a list of 61 charitable contributions made by himself and by the Christina and Ronald Gidwitz Foundation that totaled more than local Boys and Girls Club, the Boy Scouts and the American Diabetes Association," Proft said.
DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, another Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, did not respond to the request for financial records by late last week.
Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri is the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for treasurer. Mangieri listed an adjusted gross income of $142,708 in 2004 and $520 in deductions for charity, less than 1 percent.
Should candidates be expected to give more? What about Blagojevich and Topinka, how much do they donate to charity?