By Erin Mansfield, VTDigger
Gubernatorial candidate urges others running to disclose financial records
By Jasper Craven, VTDigger.org
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman is worth $50.9 million, according to newly released tax and financial data from the campaign.
Lisman spent four decades on Wall Street, primarily with Bear Stearns, and ended his career as a senior manager at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. He retired to Vermont in 2009.
His assets include $7.2 million in cash, a $5.8 million home in Shelburne, $19.7 million in brokerage accounts and $4 million in direct investments.
Lisman is the first 2016 gubernatorial candidate to share personal financial data. Vermont law does not require candidates to release tax information; he urged other gubernatorial candidates to disclose financial records.
“I’m trying to set a standard of disclosure,” Lisman said. “It’s a simple, clear statement that I don’t have any conflicts. Since I’ve disclosed everything, we can always discuss my relationships.”
Phil Scott, his Republican rival, said in a statement he promised to release past tax returns, as well as a list of assets in the spring. Campaign managers for Democratic gubernatorial candidates Sue Minter and Matt Dunne said they will also release tax information in the spring.
Lisman’s current brokerage investments include J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, while his direct investment portfolio includes local and out-of-state companies.
His Vermont investments include NSA Inc., a precision fabricating company in St. Johnsbury, and NG Advantage Inc., a gas distributor in Colchester.
Lisman said he actively scouts promising businesses in the state, but the campaign has precluded him from being as active an investor in recent months.
“People will call me and say ‘We are looking at this or that idea,’” Lisman said, explaining his investment strategy. “I assess the quality of the product and the management of the company. I’m intrigued by some, and some don’t make sense.”
Lisman’s out-of-state investments include Cytogel Pharma, a drug company in Connecticut, and Spine View Inc., a medical device company in California.
He made more than $1.3 million in 2013 and $1.6 million in 2014, most of which came from capital gains. Lisman netted $14,454 in wages in 2014.
“I’ve had a successful career, and I’m proud of it,” Lisman said. “The documents that we provided represent a near four-decade long career, it’s a snapshot in time, and it’s the representation of hard work.”
Lisman made transparency a hallmark issue when he ran Campaign for Vermont, an advocacy organization he founded in 2011. He has been the primary funder of the nonprofit group.
In 2013, Campaign for Vermont issued a report recommending transparency improvements in state government.
“I believe that transparency in our government is the single most important issue that we have to offer you,” Lisman said at the time.
The Center for Public Integrity has consistently given the state poor transparency marks.Vermont scored a “D-” in CPI’s 2015 State Integrity Investigation.
While Lisman’s wealth is substantial, he often highlights his middle class roots. He grew up in Burlington and worked his way through college at the University of Vermont before moving to New York City to enter the financial sector.
Lisman also emphasized his charitable work in a press release. He gave more than $150,000 to charities in 2013 and 2014. He has donated to a number of organizations, including Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, the Humane Society of Chittenden County and the Shelburne Museum.
“Bruce has also been generous in how he has given back to Vermont,” said campaign manager Shawn Shouldice. “As a tribute to his father, he founded the Irving Lisman Scholarship Fund which has provided scholarships to over 400 non-traditional Vermont students attending UVM.”