Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Neither the GOP Nor the Dems Have a Tax Leg to Stand On. Discuss.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Let’s just pass a law: if you want to run for public office in Illinois, you have to release your tax returns.

    Think of how much time we could spend debating the real issues facing this state, instead of wondering how much money our politicians earn. And, think of how much fun it will be to find out exactly how much money our politicians earn!

    Tax returns have become the subject of 2010’s dumbest, most hypocritical round of political finger-pointing because we all want to know where Jason Plummer, a 27-year-old from Edwardsville, got enough money to buy the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. (I’d also like to know what kind of wealthy young man would make that his first big-ticket purchase. Most guys go for the crib and the car.)

    Last week, Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller was asking a Brady campaign operative why Plummer won’t release his tax returns when he got this scoop: Lisa Madigan hadn’t released her returns, either. So Miller called Madigan’s campaign. Their response: “This has nothing to do with Lisa. This is about Bill Brady not releasing his tax returns and Jason Plummer not releasing his tax returns.”

    To be fair, Lisa Madigan is on the ballot, but she’s running for re-election as attorney general the way Fidel Castro ran for re-election as president of Cuba. It’s a formality. Her opponent, Steve Kim, has been so invisible that he never bothered to ask for her tax returns.

    Still, the Republican Party took a shot at Madigan for behaving like Jason Plummer.

    “What is Lisa Madigan hiding?” party chairman Pat Brady asked in a press release. “When will the de-facto Governor, Mike Madigan, release his tax returns? Will Pat Quinn apply the same standards he touts and ask both Madigans to open their tax returns for public viewing?”

    As a result, Madigan agreed to release her tax returns. So did Kim.

    That leaves Alexi Giannoulias, who filed for an extension on his 2009 tax returns, and has not yet released his 1040s to the public. Unlike his opponent Mark Kirk, who showed us 10 years of tax returns.

    “After reckless banking practices brought down Broadway Bank and cost the FDIC more than $390 million, Alexi owes the people of Illinois a full accounting,” Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

    The Giannoulias campaign shot back that Kirk didn’t release his tax returns “until we pressured him to – and still he would only release his tax returns for an in-person 15 minute review at his campaign office. In short, he can spare us the lecture.”

    So … Giannoulias deserves credit for pressuring Mark Kirk to do something that he himself won’t do? I double-dare you to jump off the old railroad trestle!

    Both parties can spare us the lecture. The Democrats and the Republicans each have a young prince who’s refusing to reveal the source of his family money. Until they both fess up, nobody has a leg to stand on.