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Forbes Magazine: Peter Reilly Interviews Jill Stein

 

 

Who Is Jill Stein Anyway ? Green Party Candidate Discusses Her Background

 

Peter J Reilly, Contributor

I focus on the tax issues of individuals, businesses & more

 

Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for President of the United States. I have written about the tax section of theGreen Party platform and followed that up with something on the Party’s flap with Google. Google wanted to spike an ad in which the candidate uttered the “s” word.  At the end of that piece I reflected that, in the interest of thoroughness, I should review Dr. Stein’s tax returns.  That was nearly a month ago. 

I was surprised to find that Doctor Stein’s returns were not readily available on the Green Party website.  I was also surprised by the thinness of available biographical material.  There is a narrative about her transition from physician and mother to activist. 

Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate.  The narrative goes on from there, but there is not a lot more information about her background.

Jill was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. Jill enjoys writing and performing music, and enjoys long walks with her Great Dane, Bandita. Dr. Stein lives in Lexington with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. She has two sons, Ben and Noah, who have graduated from college in the past few years.

One of my mantras is that I am a tax blogger, not an investigative reporter.  The non-disclosure and the biographical thinness fired up my imagination, though.  I stretched my non-tax research capability a bit and contacted her campaign about the returns.  She had released her 2009 return while running for Governor of Massachusetts, for the second time, in 2010.  There was no copy on the web though.  Even after getting some fairly significant help on biographical material, I still had a sense that Dr. Stein materialized as a Harvard graduate in 1973.  Manchurian candidate ?  Perhaps emissary from the future to nudge us away from the environmental armageddon, that we are headed toward ?  That’s what can happen to you if you read too much science fiction.

Fortunately I had the help of my friend, Jonathan Schwartz, executive director ofInterlock Media.  Interlock produces documentaries on human rights and environmental issues.  Jonathan has better contacts than I do in Green circles and considerearbly more chutzpah.  He convinced me that rather than using the lack of returns and the thinness of biographical material to spin theories, I should interview Dr. Stein.  Much to my amazement and with much help from the Interlock crew, I actually did that.  The entire interview is not yet available.  It will be going up on myyoutube channel over the course of this week.

 

Here are is what is available now.  In this clip we learn that Dr. Jill Stein is an agnostic raised in Reform Judaism, heavily influenced by the social justice concerns thatpervaded her upbringing

 

On both sides of her family, Dr. Stein is descended from turn of the century immigrants who were fleeing persecution in Russia.  Her paternal grandfather, Abe Stein, was in the garment business and her maternal grandfather Israel Wool was a real estate investor in Chicago.  I’m going to do some research on them to totally rule out the time travel theory, but I feel a lot better now.

In the rest of the interview, I covered several of the tax provisions of the Green Party Platform and some of the non-tax provisions, that I found intriguing.  The Green Party is something of a “big tent” for a variety of ideas that are not quite ready for prime time.  Dr. Stein kept emphasizing that their was a distinction between the platform and her campaign, but I found her answers fairly forthcoming.

I did ask one tax question that was not addressed by the platform and I am not going to hold out on my loyal readers, even though that clip is not yet available.  Although Doctor Stein indicated she does not like to shoot from the hip, she gave me an answer on Freedom From Religion Foundation’s suit on the constitutionality of tax free housing allowances for “ministers of the gospel’.  She indicated that she believed special treatment for amounts paid to clergy was a violation of separation of church and state principles.  So if you want the Justice Department to pull the plug on defending Section 107, as it did with DOMA, you might want to vote for Jill Stein.

You can follow me on twitter @peterreillycpa.