Arnold and Westly Did It, Why Not eMeg?

I’m a bit of a cynic, and don’t typically fall for the populist rhetoric. Populist action? Yes. Rhetoric? Not as much. I’m all about taking banks to the woodshed, but don’t waste my time talking about it, just do it.

And the tax returns issue is something of a blend of the two. It’s more than mere rhetoric, as the state does have some interest in knowing just exactly how much you are earning, and where it is coming from.  These things tend to sway policy makers. Releasing tax returns has sort of become a standard of the least you can get away with. You have to do at least that much.  Arnold Schwarzenegger has released his tax records for election purposes, as has Steve Westly, Whitman’s colleague at eBay.

But Whitman, she won’t really say if she is going to do that:

“We will obviously comport with all the filing requirements for the state of California when you run for governor, and I may release my tax returns,” Whitman said in an interview at the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air. “We’ll see. But I’ll do it on my own timetable and not in response to the unions that are fronting for Jerry Brown.”

State campaign rules require candidates to disclose certain general financial interests prior to elections, but tax returns are not among them. Still, many wealthy candidates, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Controller Steve Westly, released their returns in past races. (LA Times blog)

Nice little distraction technique by tossing some red meat to the base and running in the other direction.  Of course, Level the Playing Field has been applying some pressure in this area, such as sending a letter to former Gov. Pete Wilson (PDF) asking him to either call on Whitman to release her returns or resign from Whitman’s campaign. (Wilson used to use the tax returns issue when he was running.) However, conservatives (including Poizner) have discussed the issue. Poizner says that he definitely will release his returns in order to create the “most open and accessible campaign.”

So what is it that Whitman has to hide? Where is it that her money is coming and going to? And why is she trying to hide that information?  Thing is, in the age of the internet, what wants to get out, will get out.  Whitman can either try to hide her record, and get surprised by it later, or she can just open up now.  Still, I’m not holding my breath for openness from the woman who is trying to buy her way into the governor’s office.