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    Wife's salary outstrips McBride's

    The bank executive in 1999 earned five times the income of her husband, a gubernatorial candidate.

    ©Associated Press
    August 3, 2002

    ORLANDO -- The wife of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride has been the biggest breadwinner in the family during the past decade, according to tax returns released Friday.

    Alex Sink, former Florida president of Bank of America, made five times the income of her attorney husband in 1999, a year the couple together earned $3.1-million.

    The McBride campaign made public almost a decade's worth of tax returns Friday in response to a challenge from Republican Gov. Jeb Bush to other gubernatorial candidates to follow his example of releasing 10 years' worth of returns. Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno released her returns earlier this week.

    But the McBride campaign refused to release Sink's 2000 and 2001 tax returns. The couple had filed joint returns until 2000 when they decided to file separately.

    Florida candidates are required to file financial disclosure forms, but neither they nor their spouses have to release tax returns.

    Bush's re-election campaign has said the public should know whether McBride's wife received income from companies that may have business before the governor or state. Bush and his wife, Columba, filed their returns jointly.

    "The public has a right to know what potential conflicts of interest any candidate who may be governor may have," said Todd Harris, a Bush spokesman. "The fact that they refuse to release any financial information makes one question . . . what are they hiding?"

    There is no need to release Sink's tax returns from the past two years, said McBride campaign spokesman Alan Stonecipher, because she isn't running for office and the couple have always kept their finances separate.

    "This is a highly accomplished couple with individual careers," Stonecipher said. "If they want to attack Alex Sink, bring it on. But her name isn't on the ballot."

    Sink earned $2.6-million in 1999, the last year the couple filed joint federal income tax returns. A large jump in her income came from her exercising stock options, Stonecipher said.

    McBride earned $523,647 that year from his job as managing partner of Holland & Knight, the state's largest law firm. He earned $566,735 in 2000 and $436,890 in 2001. He quit the law firm in mid 2001 to run for office.

    The returns showed McBride had losses of more than $514,000 during the past eight years from a 25-acre orange grove he owns beside his Thonotosassa home. The losses helped lower his tax bill. He paid $115,087 in federal taxes last year and $136,322 in 2000.

    McBride and his wife also gave substantial donations to charities, including almost $250,000 in stock and cash to the Community Foundation in Tampa in 1999 to help pay for child care for migrant workers. They also gave thousands of dollars to their church, the University of Florida Gator Boosters, Wake Forest University and the youth league organization in which McBride coaches baseball.

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