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Slay makes tax returns public as city election officials clarify financial disclosure requirements

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 7, 2013 - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has released five years of tax returns that show the bulk of his family's income comes from his job.

So far, the mayor is the only one of the city’s four mayoral candidates – three Democrats and one from the Green Party – to have released his tax returns. His chief rival, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, has yet to say whether he also to plans to make some of his income returns public.

Slay's returns span 2007 through 2011, and show his family’s adjusted gross income ranging from a low of $145,698 in 2008 to $165,453 in 2010.

Slay's taxes during those years ranged from a low of $18,373 in 2008 to a high of $24,547 in 2010.

At least 90 percent of his family’s total income came from his job as mayor. The rest came from a job held by his wife, Kim Slay. She currently works at First Bank.

Slay’s returns show that most of the couple’s deductions were for state and local taxes, and mortgage interest. The family's charitable contributions ranged from $675 in 2008 to a high of $2,709 in 2011.

Reed spokesman Glenn Burleigh said that Reed was caught off guard by the issue because he had never been asked before to release his income tax returns during his previous campaigns for public office.

Slay is only candidate to file personal financial report

The mayor also is the only one of the mayoral contenders who is required to file a personal financial disclosure report with election authorities.

In essence, that was the message delivered Thursday by the St. Louis Election Board, which has been calling the four candidates to clarify confusion that has been roiling behind the scenes for days.

Slay had filed his personal financial disclosure report – dubbed a “PFD” – prior to the January deadline for doing so. But his allies had been privately complaining that Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed had declined to file a PFD, saying he is not required to do so.

City Election Board chairman Joan Burger said that, in effect, Reed is correct. Under St. Louis’ ordinance governing the issue -- and cosponsored by Reed -- the mayor is the only city elected official who must annually file a PFD.

The ordinance comes into play because, under state law, a candidate can get tossed off the ballot for failing to file a PFD.

But that requirement doesn’t apply to St. Louis because the state law stipulates that it's not in effect in municipalities who have their own ordinances governing such matters. Officials with the Missouri Ethics Commission and the secretary of state’s office – the two state bodies overseeing aspects of the election process -- tell the Beacon that they are deferring to the city Election Board on the issue.

Burger said that the board had notified the four candidates for mayor – Democrats Slay, Reed and Jimmie Matthews, and Green Party candidate James McNeely – that only Slay had to file a PFD and that no non-filers would be tossed off the March 5 ballot.

Burger said the confusion had arisen because the board had given out the wrong information form to candidates. The candidates are being asked to pick up corrected forms at the Election Board’s headquarters.

So what does Slay’s PFD show? Not much.

The only information reported on his form shows that the mayor works for the city, and his wife Kim Slay works for First Bank.  The report also shows that Slay doesn’t meet the threshold for reporting any stocks or bonds or any financial partnerships. The report does not ask for financial data, so no financial income figures are included in the report.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.