Politics & Government

How much SC's candidates for governor make, according to their tax returns

Top left to right: Kevin Bryant, John Warren, Marguerite Willis, Henry McMaster
Bottom left to right: James Smith, Catherine Templeton, Phil Noble, Yancey McGill
Top left to right: Kevin Bryant, John Warren, Marguerite Willis, Henry McMaster Bottom left to right: James Smith, Catherine Templeton, Phil Noble, Yancey McGill bmarchant@thestate.com

Half of South Carolina's candidates for governor made more than $1 million dollars over the past three years, according to their tax returns.

The State asked all the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor for their tax returns.

On Thursday, state. Rep. James Smith made his returns from 2014 to 2016 available for review. Others provided the newspaper with copies of at least their main federal 1040 tax form.

Smith's federal tax filings show he and his wife earned a total of $746,246 during the past three years, mostly from Smith's Columbia law firm. He paid an average of $43,147 a year in federal taxes during that time frame.

That's not an insignificant sum, but Smith still trails some of his opponents in the gubernatorial field.

Florence attorney Marguerite Willis — filing jointly with her husband, Frank Willis — reported the highest income in 2016 of the eight candidates for governor — more than $1.4 million. In just the past two years of tax returns provided by the Democrat's campaign, Willis' family income was $3.1 million, more than any of the other candidates and their spouses reported earning for three years.

Willis has been an anti-trust attorney with Columbia firm Nexsen Pruet for 18 years, while Frank Willis is the economic development director for Darlington County.

Catherine Templeton had the next highest reported income, making $3.04 million over three years from 2014 to 2016 — or just more than $1 million a year on average — with her husband, Morgan Templeton, a Mount Pleasant attorney.

Templeton, an attorney, has worked as a consultant since resigning as a state agency director in 2015, including working for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, which Templeton once headed; the state Department of Revenue; and the state Ports Authority. However, Templeton's returns don't detail her income from her consulting firm Brawley Templeton, and she hasn't disclosed her nongovernment clients.

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Two other gubernatorial candidates reported earning more than $1 million in the three years of tax returns that they made available.

Upstate businessman John Warren, who heads Lima One Capital, made $1.4 million over those three years.

Incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster made $1.2 million during the same period. McMaster earned $36,000 from his law office in 2016. However, most of his income that year — $322,292 — came from rental properties around the Columbia area.

Other candidates reported earning less than $500,000 in income over the past three years.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson reported earning $470,077, primarily from his Anderson pharmacy business. Bryant reported earning only $98,725 in 2016, including a business loss of $61,045.

Former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill of Williamsburg had $362,607 in income from 2014-16.

Phil Noble of Charleston reported earnings of $303,828 during the three-year period from his business and consulting firm and his wife's work as an accountant.

None of the candidates made their most recent returns — for 2017 — available. Those returns were due April 17.

How much did the candidates make?

The 2016 reported income for the eight Democratic and Republican candidates for governor

Marguerite Willis: $1,426,796

Catherine Templeton: $889,932

John Warren: $450,762

Henry McMaster: $431,661

James Smith: $278,159

Yancey McGill: $141,056

Phil Noble: $106,903

Kevin Bryant: $98,725