Editorial: Jerry Brown steps up, Meg Whitman dodges

Mercury News Editorial

Now we know that one candidate for California governor is serious about making tax returns public:

Democrat Jerry Brown.

Only Brown met our noon deadline Wednesday to commit to posting 10 years of full state and federal returns online May 5. In a page one editorial last week, we had challenged candidates to make that pledge in writing. They'd be sure to keep their word, we reasoned, and if they all posted at the same time, it would get around the problem of nobody wanting to go first. It seemed simple and fair.

Republicans Meg Whitman and the all-but-irrelevant Steve Poizner continue to say they want to be open — but they do nothing.

Whitman is particularly disingenuous. She challenged Brown to release all of his returns since he left the governor's office — 27 years' worth — and said that after he complied, she'd release 25 years of her own returns. (Leading one to wonder what might lurk in her years 26 and 27.) She's also waffled between releasing full returns and summaries.

Tax returns are important in this race because of the tens of millions of dollars being spent to mold public images, particularly by Whitman, who's shattering campaign spending records. Tax filings help to show who candidates are, how they accumulated wealth and how charitable they've been.

Late Wednesday, Whitman's camp said if Brown released all 27 years on May 5, she'd release her 25 years of full returns. It's turned into a game, and voters are losing. Why not just start with 10 years? The candidates can release more later; we hope they do. But there's precedent for 10 years, and it's a good faith show of openness.

By agreeing, Whitman could show that she's sincere about her intent to disclose personal financial information.

We already know that Jerry Brown is.

Souce: San Jose Mercury News

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