Weeks ago, the three major candidates for governor of California agreed — in principle — to release their income tax returns, but it hasn't happened and it may not happen.
The leading Republican candidate, Meg Whitman, says she'll release her returns for the past quarter-century if Democrat Jerry Brown releases his dating back to 1983, when his first stint as governor ended. Brown has specifically promised only returns for the past decade in response to a newspaper request.
Steve Poizner, the other Republican candidate, says he'll do it when Whitman does it — but with his slender chances of winning the GOP nomination, nobody much cares about his personal finances.
The real question is whether there's anything in either Whitman's or Brown's tax records that would substantially affect what likely will be a hard-fought duel between the two for the governorship. And without papers in hand, one can only speculate.
Brown, it's clear, wants to paint Whitman as the handmaiden of rapacious Wall Street bankers — based on her connections to Goldman Sachs, the current poster child for banking malfeasance — who's now using her presumably ill-gotten gains to buy the governorship. Her income tax returns probably would provide hard data on how much money she received from her ties to Goldman Sachs and other financial players.
Whitman's campaign, meanwhile, hopes that Brown's financial records will undercut the image he's trying to project of a populist fighter for middle-income voters.
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