A great series of stories by the Star Tribune over the last few years have lead to a greater level of transparency in race for governor. Gov. Mark Dayton has publicly released his tax returns every year since 2010 and the Star Tribune recently reported on the Republican endorsed candidate for governor Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet releasing their returns. Other candidates have yet to disclose their returns.
I wrote last November that while candidates are not required to release their tax returns, it’s a smart move by the candidates for governor to do so, because the incumbent governor has done it for years. A candidate refusing to release their tax returns will provide their opponents with political fodder to be used against them during the campaign. Get ready for repeated questions, such as "what are you hiding?", if the returns are not released. Not releasing your tax returns will be a distraction – if you don’t want scrutiny, don’t run for office.
On the flip-side, Minnesota campaign laws don’t require the release of income tax returns, so why should candidates for statewide office burden themselves with an extra requirement? Because as I wrote, it just makes sense – especially when your main opponent is voluntarily releasing their returns.
While Gov. Dayton has disclosed his tax returns, the follow-up requests by reporters for the disclosure of other candidate tax returns warrants recognition.