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Tax Return Politics

You can judge for yourself whether it's an outrage that the Republican candidate for governor Bill Brady hasn't paid any federal income taxes in three years, but the bigger outrage in this corner is the way the tax return game is played.

First, there's the dissembling. Brady initially refused to release his returns, saying his business interests would be jeopardized. Then Brady gave in to the political pressure and decided that, you know, his business interests could survive a peek at the numbers.

Once released it became clear Brady had made a political decision, not a business decision.

Then came the spin.

The extremely wealthy Brady tried to argue that the business losses that afforded him a tax bill of $0 was a tale of a struggling lil' ol' small businessman who feels your pain.

The state Republican Party then joined in and distributed a press release from the Brady campaign that opened with this:

"Making available his complete tax returns since 2004, Bill Brady today said the numbers tell a story of success and loss that affected the family business's employees more than anyone else, a story repeated throughout Illinois."

This is the same state Republican Party hammering Alexi Giannoulias daily for the failure of a lil' ol' family bank, a story repeated throughout Illinois.

The Brady campaign then slipped into audacious evasion mode:

"In making the returns available, Brady said he supports the public's right to have confidence that elected officials have no potential conflicts of interest."

As long as the public - or the media, rather, have photographic memories.

"[R]eporters in Illinois will have only three hours to review the documents - and only if they're at his Springfield campaign office. That's the only way Brady has said he will make them available," Adrian Uribarri reported for the Chicago Current.

"Asked whether he was doing enough to ensure adequate public scrutiny and transparency, he repeatedly replied, 'You'll have access to it. Next question.'"

Then came the hypocritical outrage from the Pat Quinn campaign:

"Today, after significant pressure, Senator Brady agreed to share several years of his past tax returns with the press. But there were conditions: instead of making copies available to the taxpayers of the state, select members of the media were invited to 'view' his returns only for a limited period of time. This sounds more like a glimpse of Haley's Comet or of a solar eclipse than the full disclosure the public deserves."

As Rich Miller wrote on his Capital Fax blog, though, "Quinn did the same thing last year, however. Reporters had to make a reservation to review the guv's tax returns and couldn't make copies."

There's only one reason why politicians don't allow reporters to make copies of documents: so they can't study them for their veracity and for follow-up stories.

"I don't know what he's thinking, to be honest," Quinn said in his faux aw-shucks way. "If you want to be governor and you don't want to disclose your income tax return, I think you're really letting the people down."

But Miller reminds us in a link to this 2009 AP story that Quinn has been equally as squirrelly in the past:

"Getting a peek at Gov. Pat Quinn's taxes isn't as easy as you might think.

"Quinn didn't make copies of them available today when he released the returns, instead requiring people to make appointments to see them at his Chicago or Springfield offices.

"Other politicians, including President Barack Obama, e-mailed copies of their returns.

"Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said in an e-mail that Quinn prefers viewers take notes from his original documents."

Gee, why would Quinn prefer that?

At least Brady truly seems to believe that his tax returns are none of anybody's business, saying that "It's an invasion [of privacy]." It's too bad he was willing to compromise that conviction due to political pressure. Quinn just pretends that's transparent.

See also:
* Brady's Tax Returns Shown For Limited Time Only

* Brady Give Reporters 3 Hours To View Taxes

* Brady Plays Peek-A-Boo With Tax Return

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And finally, to the substance of Brady's returns:
* Six Views On Brady's Taxes

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Comments welcome.




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Posted on April 26, 2010


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