Upstate challenger earned almost as much as Haley, Sheheen combined

ashain@thestate.comJuly 10, 2014 

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Tom Ervin, a Republican running as a petition candidate for governor, made $608,114 last year — much of it from a one-time withdrawal from his retirement account to buy three Anderson radio stations.

Ervin earned nearly as much in 2013 as Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen combined, $617,598. Ervin filed his tax return separately from his wife, who runs a Greenville law firm. Haley and Sheheen filed jointly with their spouses.

But Ervin’s taxable income last year was nearly $400,000 more than his average annual earnings during the previous 10 years, according to income-tax returns that he provided The State.

Ervin, who dropped out of the Republican primary to mount an independent bid for governor in November, had loaned his campaign $420,000 as of March 30.

Ervin, a disability attorney at his wife’s law firm, was paid $194,975 in wages last year. He also received $37,213 from a state pension earned as a state judge and prosecutor.

He cashed out $444,953 from his individual-retirement account to buy the radio stations last year. He also took a loss of $67,527 from the stations for technology upgrades.

Ervin cut checks for $165,875 to pay his state and federal taxes in 2013.

He gave $15,100 to charity last year, or 2.5 percent of his total taxable income. The bulk of his donations, $12,500, went to the Clemson University Foundation. He also gave $200 to the National Rifle Association and $400 to Safe Harbor for Battered Women.

Ervin released 11 years of income-tax returns, covering a period where he had almost $2.9 million in taxable income. Before 2013, his annual earnings ranged from a low of $145,474 in 2004 to a high of $305,360 in 2008.

Sheheen and Haley have released returns dating back to when they first ran for the State House in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Steve French, a Charleston-area business owner, said he would release his tax returns next week. Efforts to reach United Citizens candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves have been unsuccessful.

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