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Politics

Baltimore state’s attorney candidate Ivan Bates releases taxes, calls on opponents to do the same

Ivan Bates, the Baltimore defense attorney who’s running for state’s attorney for the second time, released his tax returns Thursday while touting transparency and calling for his opponents to do the same.

Bates released the returns first to The Baltimore Sun. They cover three years of his and his ex-wife’s income, from 2018 through 2020, the most recent year for which taxes should have been filed. Bates founded the law firm Bates and Garcia PA; his ex-wife is a psychologist.

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The couple filed jointly, reporting a steadily increasing income over the last three years. They reported adjusted gross income of about $342,000 in 2018, approximately $408,000 in 2019 and roughly $422,000 in 2020. Their 2020 income included $119,274 in salaries and $303,561 in business income, largely from his law partnership.

They paid roughly 16% of their income from 2018 and 2019 in federal taxes and almost 17% in 2020. And they paid 7% of their 2018 income and about 5% of their 2019 and 2020 income in taxes to the state.

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In an interview, Bates told The Sun he was releasing his taxes to set an example and to distinguish himself from past elected officials embroiled in scandals surrounding their personal finances.

“When you look at all our city has gone through with elected officials and transparency, elected officials — we have to begin building trust with the electorate, especially as it relates to our financial dealings,” Bates said over the phone. “So for me, I want to go out and show that I’m transparent and that I’m running on an ethical platform.”

He recently got divorced amicably from the mother of his 5-year-old daughter, but their returns from the past three years were filed jointly.

Their returns list four properties: two in Baltimore and one each in Baltimore County and Howard County. According to Bates, he lives in a condo in Baltimore and operates a town house in the city as a rental property, while the house in the county is owned by his ex-wife and operated as a rental property, and his parents and ex-wife live in a house in Laurel that Bates owns.

Bates said the documents show that he’s paid his fair share and cares about the city’s well-being.

“I’m invested in Baltimore,” Bates said.

He called on his opponents in the June Democratic primary, two-term State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and defense attorney Roya Hanna, to follow suit.

“I would hope that everybody running in the race would subscribe to the same level of transparency and ethics,” Bates said. “If they don’t want to, the voters of Baltimore City, they’re the ones that need to have that information.”

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The campaigns of Mosby and Hanna did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The move appears to put most pressure on Mosby to follow suit. The finances of Mosby and her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, were the subject of a federal investigation that spanned over a year. In 2020, the IRS placed a federal tax lien on the power couple’s Baltimore home, citing an unpaid tax debt, which the Mosby’s have since paid.

As part of their probe, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office sought a wide array of financial documents: tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents and canceled checks. Subpoenas were issued for the Mosby’s campaigns, the couple’s private businesses and some Baltimore churches.

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Marilyn Mosby was federally indicted last month on two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications to buy properties in Florida. Mosby has said she’s innocent and called the charges political.

Federal prosecutors accused the two-term Baltimore state’s attorney of fraudulently claiming she suffered financial hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic to qualify for early withdrawals from her retirement savings, and using the approximately $81,000 she took from her savings on down payments for a pair of properties in Florida.

According to the indictment, Mosby allegedly failed to disclose the tax lien on a mortgage application for a home in Kissimmee, Florida, and claimed on the application that the house was a second home despite having made an agreement with a management company to operate it as a rental. Federal prosecutors also accuse Mosby of failing to disclose her tax lien on a mortgage application for a condo in Long Boat Key, Florida.

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The release of Bates’ tax returns also comes after his campaign finances have come under scrutiny.

On Monday, former Maryland political corruption investigator James Cabezas called on the state prosecutor to investigate whether Bates violated campaign finance law. In a letter to state prosecutor Charlton Howard, Cabezas accused Bates of failing to disclose campaign expenses to mislead voters to believe his campaign has more money than it does.

Howard said he received the complaint but declined to comment further, citing office policy. For their part, Bates and his campaign dismissed the allegations as misleading or unfounded.

“The complaint is baseless and my choice to release my financial information is about character,” Bates said.


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