Chicago Tribune Editorial: Put it all out there
Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune
7:18 a.m. CDT, June 5, 2010
Jason Plummer, the 27-year-old Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, has refused to release his tax returns for voters to see. Plummer's family owns the R.P. Lumber chain headquartered in Edwardsville and other businesses and partnerships. Plummer calls the controversy over his returns a distraction from more serious issues. "I don't think a person's economic status, their financial status, should be a standard for whether or not they run for office," he said.
He can think whatever he wishes, but the distraction will dog him throughout the campaign. Bill Brady, the GOP candidate for governor, initially refused to release his returns, then relented and gave reporters a limited window to peruse six years of filings. They revealed that Brady paid no federal income taxes the last two years because of business losses.
So Plummer wants voters to trust him — on his terms.
Gov. Pat Quinn pounced on Plummer's statements, just as he pounced on Brady's initial refusal to release his returns. Quinn and his running mate, Sheila Simon, have released their tax returns. "When these candidates play peekaboo, or not at all, with their returns, I think there's legitimate questions to be asked," Quinn said. Asked whether he believed Plummer is hiding something, Quinn replied, "I think that's a natural conclusion."
Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady countered that Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, should release their tax returns. Since then, Lisa Madigan has allowed scrutiny of her returns. But Michael Madigan — the most powerful man in the state — has not.
Given the feathering of one's own nest that has become disgustingly routine in Illinois politics, it's a good idea — make that a must — for major candidates to release personal tax and income information.
But we'd sure like to hear candidates push this like they mean it. Gov. Quinn, where's your demand that your fellow Democrat, U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, put it all out there? Sen. Brady, tell your running-mate Plummer he shouldn't hide from voters. Otherwise, it's all just more gamesmanship.