Maryland governor candidate Jim Shea releases tax returns, showing he paid $4.7M in taxes

Jim Shea speaks at a gubernatorial forum in April sponsored by environmental groups. The Democratic candidate for governor released his tax returns on Friday.
Jim Shea speaks at a gubernatorial forum in April sponsored by environmental groups. The Democratic candidate for governor released his tax returns on Friday. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Lawyer Jim Shea, the former chairman of the state's largest law firm, on Friday became the second candidate for Maryland governor to release his tax returns — reporting that he has both earned millions in income and paid millions in taxes in recent years.

Shea, who lives in Owings Mills and was chairman of the Venable law firm, reported earning $12.5 million from 2012 to 2016 — an average of $2.5 million per year.


During those years, Shea's returns show that he and his wife, Barbara, paid about $4.7 million in taxes — about 37 percent of his income. The couple also gave about $955,000 in charitable donations. The Sheas filed an extension for 2017 but said they plan to release those returns later in the year.

In a statement, Shea urged other candidates who have not yet released their tax returns to do so.


"Public financial disclosures are not enough," Shea said. "President Trump also claimed that his financial disclosures were a satisfactory substitute for his tax returns. The fact is, they do not ensure the same level of accountability. One needs to look no further than Baltimore County and the indictment of Dallas Dance to prove that."

Dance, the former superintendent of Baltimore County schools, is serving a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to perjury for failing to include his consulting income on financial disclosure forms.

State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno was the first gubernatorial candidate to release his tax returns last month, and he challenged other candidates to do the same. Several Democrats running for governor said they would do so, including former NAACP president Ben Jealous, lawyer Krish Vignarajah and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.

But so far, only Madaleno and Shea have released their returns.

Democrat Jim Shea tapped up-and-coming Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his running mate in their race for governor, creating a Baltimore-centric ticket with generational appeal.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker hasn't responded to questions on the topic, and neither has Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

A spokesman for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he believed his financial disclosure forms sufficiently informed the public.

Along with Shea's release, his running mate Brandon Scott, a Baltimore City Council member, released his returns. Scott made about $64,000 last year. They are the first ticket to release returns from both candidates.

"We are committed to transparency, both in this campaign and in the governor's office," Shea said. "Unfortunately, we've seen in Donald Trump the dangers of executive elected officials who refuse to release their tax returns or disclose their business dealings. Councilman Scott and I are committed to raising the bar for transparency in Maryland."

Among the charitable groups to which Shea contributed are some focused on the environment: Friends of the National Arboretum, the Irvine Nature Center in Baltimore County, Baltimore Tree Trust, Washington Youth Garden, Casey Trees and Blue Water Baltimore.

The Sheas also contributed to the American Heart Association, Associated Black Charities, United Way, Baltimore Community Foundation, Legal Aid and Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, among others.

The issue of whether candidates should release their tax returns has been in the news frequently since President Trump broke with tradition and refused to release his.

The Maryland Senate voted in favor of a bill this year to require president and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns if they wish to appear on the state's ballots. But the legislation died in the House of Delegates.


In January, Shea reported donating $534,000 to his own campaign for governor — a move that helped put him near the top of the cash race to win the June 26 Democratic primary election.

Shea was second in cash on hand in the crowded Democratic field of hopefuls who want to challenge Hogan in November. Shea had more than $1.3 million on hand, trailing only Kamenetz, who had a little more than $2 million.

Montgomery County State Sen. Rich Madaleno released six years of his tax returns Tuesday night, and challenged fellow Democrats and Gov. Larry Hogan to do the same.

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