Bill Brady, the Republican candidate for Illinois governor, announced one month ago that he wouldn't release his tax returns for media scrutiny, arguing it could hurt his business.
That decision survived only a few days of wilting pressure from his rival, Gov. Pat Quinn, and a media establishment that wondered what he might be hiding. Ultimately, Brady showed the returns to a room of reporters for three hours.
So naturally it came as something of a surprise yesterday when his running mate, Jason Plummer, announced that he wouldn't be releasing his tax returns.
"As a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, I personally believe, like many other statewide candidates and public officials in Illinois, that the issue of releasing individual tax returns is often used to serve as a political distraction by those who can not answer the real issues that voters care about," Plummer said in a statement. "I will continue to fully offer donor information and information on any potential conflicts, but I will not be providing individual tax return information."
Not surprisingly, the 27-year-old political newcomer faced the exact same criticisms that Brady faced for the same decision in April.
In a release, the Quinn campaign linked Plummer's refusal to the fact that Bill Brady paid no taxes last year, due to business losses.
As a wealthy business person who also draws a nice salary as a state senator, Senator Brady avoided paying income taxes. And we learned that he doesn't pay payroll taxes on his campaign staff. While not paying taxes - he still made sizeable loans to his campaign.
Now Jason Plummer has refused to disclose his taxes to voters of the state. Is it possible that he didn't pay any taxes, as well? Or is there something else? What is he hiding?
And an AP story solicited the opinion of Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
"I think it's unfortunate, because Mr. Plummer isn't yet a widely known candidate," Canary said. "In this election cycle in particular, voters have good reason to really want to scrutinize the candidates, both where they stand on the issues and how they conduct themselves personally."
Indeed, the young Plummer is little known to the wider Illinois electorate. His biggest media exposure was a painful, blundering appearance on "Chicago Tonight." When he's made headlines, it's been for things like serious resume inflation or profiting from a business lease to the state GOP.
For now, the Brady camp is backing Plummer's decision not to release the information. We'll see just how long they hold out this time around.