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    Alex Sink releases her tax returns

    The wife of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride relents after her husband wins his party's nomination.

    By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 21, 2002

    TAMPA -- Bill McBride's wife, Alex Sink, whose refusal to release her recent tax returns had become an issue in his campaign for governor, relented on Friday.

    The tax returns show she earned nearly $6.5-million over the past two years, far more than her husband.

    McBride, the Democratic nominee for governor, had released 10 years of tax returns months ago, as had Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba.

    After filing jointly for years, McBride and Sink began filing their taxes separately in 2000 and 2001, just as he planned his run for governor. Her returns were not included in the tax documents that McBride released.

    Sink, who earned more than her husband every year for at least the past decade, had argued that her finances were a private matter because she wasn't running for office.

    McBride is the only major statewide candidate in Florida in memory to file a separate tax return from his spouse. Bush campaign officials said Sink's refusal to disclose her returns suggested the couple had something to hide.

    McBride campaign spokesman Alan Stonecipher said Sink decided to release her returns after McBride beat Janet Reno in the Democratic primary last week.

    "Everything then became a lot more serious. You reach another level of exposure," Stonecipher said. "They're first-time candidates, too, so they have to think these things through."

    Sink, 53, worked in banking for 26 years before she retired in July 2000 as head of Bank of America's Florida operations. Tax returns released Friday show she earned $3.4-million from the bank that year in salary, pension, deferred compensation and stock grants.

    She earned another $100,000 mostly in dividends from investments. She also paid $1.3-million in federal taxes, including employment taxes for a nanny, and gave $40,671 to charity.

    Last year, her first full year of retirement, Sink earned about $2.8-million from the bank in stock options, stock grants, deferred compensation and pensions, plus another $100,000 from other sources, mostly investment dividends.

    That year, she paid about $1.1-million in federal taxes and gave $79,315 to charity, records show.

    McBride is the former managing partner of Holland & Knight in Tampa, one of the nation's largest law firms. The couple lives in Thonotosassa, just east of Tampa, with their two teenage children.

    In 1999, the last year the couple filed jointly, Sink made $2.6-million, while McBride earned $523,000.

    Bush campaign spokesman Todd Harris said he was glad Sink released her tax returns.

    "Whenever you refuse to relase documents like this, it looks like you're hiding something," he said. "It probably would have been better if they had released these two months ago."

    Today, McBride meets with state Democratic leaders in Orlando, then appears with Democratic U.S. Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson at a rally in Daytona Beach. On Sunday, he is scheduled to campaign in Boca Raton, possibly with Reno.

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