Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Should Rethink Taxes Stance

March 25, 2018 GMT

The three candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year disagree on some policy matters but they march in lockstep in refusing to release their tax returns. In doing so, they prove that one of the worst aspects of President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency is contagious. Trump infamously broke 40 years of precedent by refusing to reveal his tax returns during the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first major-party presidential candidate since 1976 to shield that information from voters. Now, Republican gubernatorial candidates Paul Mango, a former health care systems consultant; Laura Ellsworth, a commercial litigation lawyer; and Scott Wagner, a state senator and waste industry executive; say that they will not be up-front with voters. State law does not require candidates to release tax returns. Rather, it simply requires financial disclosure statements that are far less comprehensive. They do not, for example, reveal what candidates have paid in taxes, which is a legitimate matter of interest for voters. All three candidates have said that they will do only what the law specifically requires, which indicates a reluctance to meet a higher bar for disclosure that, as a practical matter, justifiably attends public office. Gov. Tom Wolf plans to publicly release the first two pages of his return and to make the remainder available for review by reporters. The three Republicans should reconsider.