November 15, 2018
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Moody pays more in property taxes than what the other candidates earn in a year

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
PORTLAND, MAINE -- Republican candidate for governor Shawn Moody participates in a candidate forum in Portland, in this file photo.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody and unenrolled candidate Alan Caron have both poured hundreds of thousands of their own dollars into their race for the Blaine House.

But the finances of the two most monied candidates in the race appear to diverge from there, based on tax filings and public disclosures that show Moody’s wealth far outstrips the other candidates in the race.

It’s hard to say by exactly how much. But it is clear that Moody and his wife pay more in annual property taxes than any of the other candidates’ households earn in a year.

Moody, who founded his auto repair business in 1977, said the business had record revenues in August. Public records show the company’s value shot up sharply last year.

But Moody was the only candidate who didn’t provide tax returns to the Bangor Daily News, so it’s not possible to fully compare his income to the other candidates’. He said he wished to keep private financial details about Moody’s Collision Centers, in which employees own a 34-percent stake.

However, Moody’s Collision Centers does have to disclose the overall value of that employee ownership plan in filings with the U.S. Department of Labor. The latest audited valuation completed in August indicates Moody’s stake in the company is worth roughly $32.8 million, based on the value of the employee-owned shares and Moody’s public statements that he owns 66 percent of the company.

Moody’s campaign declined to confirm the Bangor Daily News’ assessment of the company’s value.

Moody’s property records are also telling.

For example, while Caron and his wife’s home in Freeport is valued at $452,500, Moody and his wife purchased their second home in December. Located on eight shoreside acres on Brassua Lake in Somerset County, it’s valued at $417,570.

Property records show that Moody’s real estate — in property he holds personally and through a company, Real Estate Holdings LLC — is worth $14.8 million. That includes 24 different parcels in 11 different communities across the state, most in Moody’s hometown of Gorham.

Add in his other ventures, and his total business and real estate empire is worth at least $48.5 million.

That means Moody and companies he and his wife own also pay a significant amount in annual property taxes, at about $236,000. It’s more than any of the other gubernatorial candidates’ households earn in a year.

It’s also just slightly more than a $224,500 mortgage Democrat Janet Mills took out last year to buy her own lake house in Industry. Aside from that property, she owns $422,700 in real estate. That includes her home in Farmington, where she also rents out space, and two rental properties in Farmington and Augusta.

As governor, Moody has said he would prioritize lowering property taxes, using incentives for communities and school systems to regionalize services and reduce costs.

Moody said he intends to keep his stake in his companies and real estate, if elected, and his political strategist Brent Littlefield questioned whether media inquiries about Moody’s businesses, earnings and taxes seek to inspire “class warfare.”

“Is this a class warfare issue? Are you guys trying to create a narrative of class warfare?” Littlefield said.

[As governor, Moody would keep hold of rapidly growing business interests]

Federal tax data show that the other candidates — Caron, age 67; Mills, age 70; and unenrolled Terry Hayes, age 60 — are all relatively well-off compared with the rest of the state, but they are all well above the median age, and none is among the IRS’ highest category of earners making $200,000 or more a year.

In 2017, Caron and his wife had an unusual windfall, as they cashed out more than $800,000 in investments, giving about a fourth to charity and using the bulk of the money to fuel his campaign. Caron declined to state specifically what investments he sold. It was not real estate.

For Mills, her adjusted gross income as Maine’s attorney general lands her in the top batch of individual filers in her home of Farmington. As attorney general, Mills made $119,344 in wages last year, according to the state’s Open Checkbook website.

Less than 2 percent of individual filers there make as much, based on 2016 records.

Caron and his wife, who reported about $130,000 in federal adjusted gross income in 2016, are among more than one-third of the joint filers in Freeport who made as much.

Hayes and her husband are among about one-fifth of Buckfield joint filers who made between $75,000 and $100,000. Hayes made $86,858 last year, not including benefits.

Caron, Mills and Hayes all paid about 20 percent of their income toward federal and state taxes in their most recent tax returns. Moody won’t say.

Maine Focus is a journalism and community engagement initiative at the Bangor Daily News. Questions? Write to mainefocus@bangordailynews.com.

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Correction: Janet Mills last month sold a rental property in Augusta that she co-owned. The total value of Maine real estate in her name has been updated accordingly.


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