Editorial: Greater financial transparency needed for Colorado governor candidates

Daily Camera (Boulder): Last month, during their first televised debate, Colorado gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton were asked by the moderator if they would release their recent tax returns. The question prompted the event’s most entertaining exchange. The candidates talked over each other for two minutes as the moderator attempted to restore order to the proceedings. Voters came away with no useful information. Polis and Stapleton both essentially answered, “I will if he will,” meaning, “Ain’t gonna happen.”

Candidates for Colorado governor going back at least two decades have released their tax returns, which contain important details about finances and can reveal an office-holder’s susceptibility to improper influence or corruption. Then came presidential candidate Donald Trump. Oval Office aspirants going back to Jimmy Carter released their tax returns as a gesture to transparency, but Trump broke with this tradition.

There is little doubt that Trump’s tax returns are rife with, shall we say, illuminating data. Nor is there much doubt that his precedent-breaking defiance set the stage for state-level candidates to mimic the act.

Financial transparency mattered more than usual this election season in Colorado, because Democrat Polis, who won the governor race, and Republican Stapleton are both lavishly rich, and both have complicated wealth portfolios. In the end, neither released his tax returns, which left many observers to ask, “Do voters even care?”

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