TOWSON, Md. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running for governor, said Friday he does not plan to make his income tax returns public. His opponent, Republican Larry Hogan, has not released his either.
Brown, a Democrat, said after a forum in Towson that he believes financial disclosure statements he has filed in the past are sufficient information.
“For 16 years, I filed financial disclosure statements and, you know, I think Maryland voters know who Anthony Brown is and certainly have an opportunity to see who I am,” Brown said in an interview.
Financial statements filed with the state require disclosure about real estate and equity interests and debts, but they don’t provide the same information as a tax return.
Hogan’s campaign has not responded to repeated requests to make his tax returns available. Hogan canceled an appearance at Friday’s forum due to illness.
Adam Dubitsky, a spokesman for Hogan, did not return a call seeking comment on Friday.
In Maryland’s last gubernatorial race in 2010, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, voluntarily released partial tax returns in his rematch with Gov. Martin O’Malley, who made his tax returns available to reporters a day after Ehrlich.
Reminded that his running mate four years ago, O’Malley, had released his income tax returns, Brown said: “Is he on the ballot this time?” O’Malley is term limited.
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland, said voluntarily releasing tax returns is a way for candidates to demonstrate that they are transparent and are able to show they run a tight ship with their own personal finances.
“So anything that can be done to bolster this sort of proactive transparency is critical,” Bevan-Dangel said. “Maryland has certainly had its own share of scandals, and being able to take the extra step and open up the books and show you can run a tight ship, it gives a lot of faith to the citizens.”
Brown makes $125,000 a year as Maryland’s lieutenant governor. Hogan is a real estate broker. In 1995, Hogan filed for bankruptcy after new federal lending rules caused a string of bank failures, and new bank owners called in all of his loans. Hogan said in a June interview with The Associated Press that he now has a successful business.
Candidates are not required by law to make their tax returns public. Candidates in other states often do make at least some of their returns available for review.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo routinely makes his entire returns available, and he provided several years of past returns when he ran for office. His Republican challenger this year, Rob Astorino, provided only last year’s return, despite demands from Democrats that he release the last five.
In Texas, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis have released their full 2013 returns as part of their campaigns.
Maryland’s governor has strong budget powers. For example, when the governor submits the state budget to in January, the Legislature can only cut from the budget proposal. Lawmakers also cannot move money in the budget from one priority to another.
In addition, Maryland’s governor can cut up to 25 percent of the state budget without the approval of the Legislature by bringing cuts for a vote before the Board of Public Works, a three-member panel that includes the governor, treasurer and comptroller.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)