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Terri Lynn Land addresses Republican Michigan Convention (2010)
Who knew that "Terri Lynn Land" was actually an anagram of "Willard Mitt Romney"? Like her more-famous fellow Michigander, Land hails from a very wealthy family. And just like Mitt, it turns out that she also pays well below her fair share in taxes. In fact, she makes Romney's accountants look like chumps. It turns out that Rep. Gary Peters, Land's Democratic opponent in Michigan's Senate race, paid an effective federal income tax rate of 18 to 19 percent over the last three years, and even Romney paid 13 percent. Land, however, paid less than 3 percent!
Comparison of federal income tax rates between Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land, 2011-2013
Goal Thermometer

But wait a minute. Didn't I tell you Land was loaded? Yes, yes she is! In fact, her family's worth at least $35 million, and she's self-funded her campaign to the tune of $3 million so far. So how is it that she made "just" $90,000 last year and "only" half that the year before? Simple: By having it both ways.

You see, Land's husband, Dan Hibma, is loaded. But obviously Land doesn't want to look quite as out-of-touch as Romney always did, so she's filed her taxes separately in recent years—hence the suspiciously low income. However, as a candidate for federal office, she's still required to disclose all her assets, including property held together with her spouse, something she rather pointedly failed to do. (It was "inadvertent," her campaign said. Oh, undoubtedly!)

What made this non-disclosure so glaring is, of course, that series of checks adding up to $3 million that she's written to herself. Nowhere in her financial reports did Land indicate she had control of any bank accounts or other assets that would allow her to spend so freely. She did eventually amend her disclosures to include a fat checking account shared with her husband, but that just raised the question of where those funds came from in the first place: Candidates can spend joint assets without limit, but one spouse can't simply funnel money to another for use on a campaign.

And these latest revelations about Land's tax rates only heighten her contradictions further. As congressional scholar Norm Ornstein put it, Land is trying to sell an image that she's "salt of the earth" while at the same time pouring big bucks of unknown provenance into her own campaign coffers. But paying an ultra-low tax rate only calls more unwanted attention to Land's too-modest income and incomplete disclosures about her wealth.

All the negative news stories in the world, though, don't change the fact that Land is still more than capable of out-spending Peters, no matter what kind of games she's playing with her finances.

So please give $3 to Gary Peters today to help him level the playing field against Land.

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