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.