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Democrats for mayor disclose tax filings

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City Comptroller Alan Hevesi and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) released their personal income tax records for 2000 last week, calling on media baron Michael Bloomberg and other candidates in the mayoral race to follow their lead.

Bloomberg, founder of the Bloomberg News Service and a man whose personal wealth is estimated in the billions, is at this point the only likely Republican candidate on the mayoral horizon, although he has not formally announced his run.

Public Advocate Mark Green and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who are also running for the mayoral seat, released their tax returns Monday.

Hevesi, who filed a joint 2000 return with his wife Carol, earned $207,080 last year -- the majority of which came from his $160,000 annual salary as city comptroller and wages earned as a professor at Columbia and Fordham universities. Included in the earnings was $13,000 in revenue from pensions, annuities, and Social Security benefits.

Vallone, who earns $125,000 as speaker of the Council, filed a joint 2000 return with his wife, Tena, in which they reported $184,507 in gross income for the year. Among the revenues was $30,000 in pensions and Social Security benefits.

Ferrer filed jointly with his wife, Aramina, and the two reported $216,680 in gross income. It derived from his Bronx borough president salary of $135,000 a year and his wife’s salary as a Bronx elementary school principal.

Green, who as public advocate earns $150,000, also filed joint returns with his wife, Deni Frand, declaring $347,239 in adjusted gross income for the year.

The Bloomberg campaign, however, will only release the mogul’s finances when and if Bloomberg formally announces his run, said Bill Cunningham, a Bloomberg spokesman.

“If Mike become a candidate, we will release, but what form it takes I can’t tell right now. It will be extensive and will show people a lot about him,” he said.

For whoever wins the Democratic primary in September, Bloomberg’s personal fortune will be a force with which to be reckoned. And the public demand for his financial disclosure, some argue, may be an early effort to paint Bloomberg as man of means seeking to buy the election.

The Hevesi camp, however, was more subtle in its request.

“All we’re saying is that if Bloomberg is a candidate and he is acting like a candidate, then he should join Comptroller Hevesi and release his taxes,” said Hevesi spokesman, Josh Isay.

Cunningham said some degree of tax disclosure is required by law of public officials to ensure against conflict of interests. But, he said, last week’s dropping of the financial kerchief was less about public scrutiny and more a quest for limelight and airtime.

“They all try to one up each other and play gotcha,” Cunningham said. “Allen tried to play gotcha with Mike, who’s not even a candidate yet. Then Vallone tried to one up Alan.”

The candidates, Cunningham said, are each vying for the most exposure. “I released line 32 B on my return and he didn’t. I’m holier than thou because I gave out my children‘s piggy bank account. Come on,” he said.

But the Hevesi camp insists that Bloomberg is in essence already campaigning. “He’s hiring staff. He’s opening a campaign office. He’s walking and talking like a candidate, then he should release his taxes,” said Isay.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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