Democratic candidate for governor Daniel Biss and his wife Karin have released their personal federal income tax returns for the years 2012-2016. Biss, a sponsor of a bill that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the Illinois ballot, released both his 1040 and full returns for each year for public scrutiny.
Saying that restoring trust with voters is critical to taking our state back from the forces of money and the machine, Biss sent the letter below to his fellow Democratic candidates for governor, calling on them to do the same.
April 13, 2017
My fellow Democrats,
As you know, Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns for public scrutiny. The practice of candidates and executives releasing their returns isn’t simply a time honored tradition, but a necessary check to ensure elected officials don’t allow their responsibilities to the public to be compromised by potential personal gain.
Serious and consequential questions have been raised about Mr. Trump’s finances and potential conflicts of interest. And voters deserve answers to these questions.
Indeed, voters have the right to be confident that their elected officials are doing things for the right reasons, and that they are putting the interest of the people first. In short, they need to have trust in their elected officials — something that is in short supply today.
That’s why I introduced SB 982 in the Illinois legislature, which would require any candidate for President requesting the vote of Illinois citizens to afford them the respect of releasing their tax returns. We’ve seen the value of releasing tax returns in our state recently: when Governor Rauner released his returns, the public was made aware of potential conflicts of interest between Rauner family holdings and the allocation of public funds.
In a state that has been controlled by money and the machine for so long, the transparency provided in releasing tax returns is an important signal to voters that elected officials in Springfield are ready to be held accountable to the people, and only the people.
Accordingly, today, my wife and I are releasing our tax returns for the last five years. We also pledge to release next year’s returns before the primary election, and we are calling on all other Democratic candidates for governor to do the same. If we are calling upon President Trump and Governor Rauner to do so, Illinois voters should expect nothing less from any Democratic candidate for governor.
Transparency of this kind is not a new idea in our state. In his own campaign for governor in 1971, Paul Simon volunteered his sources of income saying that without disclosure, “all of us who hold office will continue to suffer in the eyes of the public.”
Senator Simon added personal financial transparency is “the only way to meet the complex problem of conflict of interest. Put matters on the table in public view and then the citizenry can make reasoned judgments, whether we are serving ourselves, or serving the public.”
I agree. All Democrats should.
Let’s hold this field of progressives to a standard that Paul Simon would be proud of. Together, we can send voters a message that we are serious about getting the levers of power out the hands of the well connected, restoring trust in government, and putting our state on a new course.
I hope you will join me.
Sincerely, Daniel Biss