What is Rob McKenna hiding?

Rob McKenna is refusing to release his tax returns:

Washington gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna said Tuesday he will not release any of his tax returns, dismissing the matter as a distraction from important policy discussions.

McKenna, the state’s attorney general, said he has disclosed enough information in the personal financial forms that candidates file with the state. He called the tax-return debate – both here and nationally – a “phony issue.”

McKenna, a Republican, said his political rivals are attempting “to change the subject away from the real issues of the state.”

Democratic rival Jay Inslee, a former congressman, released five years of tax returns last week, and his campaign had called on McKenna to do the same.

I’m sure McKenna wants you to believe that he is taking a principled stand in refusing to release his tax returns, but his recalcitrance is problematic for the gubernatorial wannabe.

First, even if the “principled stand” hypothesis is true, standing tall with Mitt Romney isn’t going to endear him to Washingtonians. The state is just not that into Mittens. In other words, if McKenna wants to peddle himself as a “different kind of Republican,” one that is palatable to the voters of our state, he shouldn’t emulate, pretend to be, or come off as, in any way, an entitled one-percenter.

Romney has good reason to hide his tax returns. He’s done the political calculation. Releasing his tax returns would be much more damaging than disclosure. And it really is understandable—the fabulously wealthy have more opportunity to dodge taxes in ways that, if disclosed to the rest of us, would induce a bout of severe vertigo followed by repulsion-induced wrenching.

But McKenna…not so many tax dodging options. So if McKenna is “standing on principle,” he takes all the damage of non-discosure without any of the benefits.

(And he will take damage from this. Washingtonians are big on transparency. Don’t think for a moment that McKenna’s non-disclosure is going to be swept under the rug.)

So, really, if McKenna is merely standing on “principle”, he’s foolishly hurting himself.

On the other hand, maybe Rob isn’t a fool. Maybe he has done the calculation of relative political damage from disclosure versus non-disclosure. And he came down on the side of hiding his tax returns. If so, what is Rob McKenna hiding?

Is McKenna being foolish here? Or does he really have something to hide in his tax returns?

Intelligent voters want to know.


  1. 1

    Deathfrogg spews:

    McKenna is a follower. He obeys orders as long as those orders don’t come from the State government. he followed the orders of Weyerhauser and the BIAA. He follows the orders of the Council for Conservative Citizens. He follows the orders of the Tea party and the Koch Brothers. He follows the orders of out-of-state business interests. He follows the orders of the GOTP and the John Birchers.

    He may look somewhat milquetoast and wishy-washy now, but he emulates Jan Brewer and Scott Walker in his sense of the purpose of the office. He supports right-to-work, he supports eliminating the child-labor laws and he supports outlawing Unions.

    If he wants to be Governor, he should step up to the TeaPottie plate and start swinging. Everyone I know, including most of the more intelligent Republicans, think he’s a simpering little cheesedick.

  2. 4

    notme spews:

    (And he will take damage from this. Washingtonians are big on transparency. Don’t think for a moment that McKenna’s non-disclosure is going to be swept under the rug.)

    Except by the Seattle Times ed board, which will praise his “focus” and “clear thinking.”

  3. 6

    rhp6033 spews:

    It appears, from the positions of quite a few Republican candidates, that the directive went out: if you haven’t already released your tax returns, limit your releases of tax returns to only two years. It’s funny to see even minor Republican politicians to be taking that stance, for the exact same two-year period.

    McKenna is just following orders which were designed to give Romney some safety in a crowd. It’s not going to work for Romney, and it’s not going to work for McKenna.

  4. 7

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Did Inslee release all his tax returns for the period in question? If Inslee isn’t going to release his tax returns, could it be possible that McKenna is just doing what Inslee has done??

  5. 10

    Michael spews:

    Two thoughts.

    1. Mckenna’s a dick. Maybe this is just him being a dick.

    2. Mckenna’s realized that he’s going to lose and maybe life will be easier for him post campaign if he doesn’t disclose.

  6. 11

    rhp6033 spews:

    Within a couple of weeks, expect Romney to respond to questions about his tax returns, by claiming:

    “I DID release my tax returns, to the full extent required by law and to the extent that over half of the candidates this year have done”.

    Mitt is such a weasil, and that makes McKenna a tool of a weasil.

  7. 12

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    I think after getting his a$$ handed to him by Inslee in the primary Bobby Mac has done the calculations and understands his next job won’t be in Olympia. Now’s his time to angle for a position in the improbable Slick Willard administration.

  8. 13

    Czechsaaz spews:

    Uhhhh, @7

    I’m concerned your reading comprehension is well below you grade level. Read the four block quoted paragraphs. Now answer:

    1. How how many years of tax returns has Jay Inslee released?
    2. What does Rob McKenna feel is a “phony issue?”
    3. How many years of tax returns has Rob McKenna released?
    4. What is Rob McKenna’s current occupation.

    All the answers are there, but according to your question, your current max obtainable score is 75%.

  9. 14

    Serial conservative spews:

    “The former governor is such a straight arrow that ‘he probably overpaid his taxes’ just to avoid questions later,” Paul Berendt, former chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party, told the Seattle Times.


    How does Berendt know what Gary Locke paid in taxes? I googled and I can’t tell.

    Has it been standard for gubernatorial candidates to release their taxes?

  10. 15

    The Better Half spews:

    7. This is a reading test.

    Paragraph #4. Inslee released five years of tax returns :)

    Question: How many tax returns did Robber Barron McCanta release? Answer: None :)

  11. 16

    Deathfrogg spews:

    @ 13

    1: Five years.
    2: Releasing tax returns.
    3: Zero.
    4: State Attorney General, but has refused several times to investigate crimes when Republicans or Conservative organizations are the folks being investigated. Dereliction of Duty is an impeachable offense.

  12. 19

    Serial Conservative spews:

    Since there hasn’t been a response to @ 14, I’ll ask again:

    Is there a tradition of WA gubernatorial candidates releasing their tax returns?

  13. 21

    Serial Conservative spews:

    Maybe McKenna’s right, that the whole tax return thing is idiotic when there are already financial disclosures.

    Inslee released his tax returns and already has had to file an amendment because of an unjustifiable deduction:


    Is this what we should be talking about? What’s next? Some 1992 Ford Escort that a guy bought, sold later, and tried to deduct the loss?

    Imagine if McKenna had tried to deduct a loss on a former country-club membership. Or if ANY Republican had tried to reduce his tax burden based on an elite (1%!!!) asset that had been sold at a loss.

    This is idiotic. Nothing about Inslee’s or McKenna’s finances has anything to do with their capability. It’s a search for ‘gotcha’ and Inslee scored a minor own-goal in the process.

  14. 22

    dorky dorkman spews:

    re 21: It’s idiotic for the public to vet their candidates by finding out if they’re crooks?

    What are you guys hiding? If you are not hiding something, then you have nothing to worry about.

  15. 23


    Serial Conservative @ 21,

    “This is idiotic. Nothing about Inslee’s or McKenna’s finances has anything to do with their capability.

    Huh…so you think that George Romney was wrong?

    Via the PI:

    The personal financial disclosures that McKenna files in Washington do provide some detailed information, such as donations from groups that have covered costs during McKenna speaking engagements. But some of the numbers can be vague, as the forms provide only broad estimates for income from investments.

    Tax returns would also provide more specific detail on household income, how much the family paid in taxes, any types of exemptions the family claimed and how much the McKennas gave in charitable contributions.

    So…what do you McKenna is trying to hide?

  16. 24

    Politically Incorrect spews:


    Sorry, I didn’t feel like reading the whole deal. My point was that if Inslee released his tax returns, then McKenna should mathch Inslee year for year. That’s all.