Perry Gives Ultimatum on Debate, Tax Returns

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White
Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White

For 179 days, the two leading gubernatorial candidates have talked past one another about tax returns and debates. Might that discussion be coming to an end?

Gov. Rick Perry's campaign announced today that he won't debate his Democratic opponent, Bill White, unless the former Houston mayor releases 15-year-old tax records by mid-September: 

If Bill White fails to release the income tax returns he filed while serving the public as Deputy Secretary of Energy (1993-95) and as Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party (1995-98) by September 15, the people of Texas will not get the opportunity to see the candidates debate.

For 179 days, Bill White has prevented debate discussions from occurring by refusing to allow Texans to learn from his tax returns how he profited while serving in public positions that required him by law to file annual personal financial disclosures.

“Texans are tired of waiting for Bill White to release his taxes, as am I,” said Gov. Perry. “I am eager to participate in a debate, as I have during previous statewide campaigns, but if Bill White refuses to be honest with the people of Texas about how he profited while serving the public, I will not share a debate stage with him. Bill White’s staunch opposition to transparency is unbecoming of someone seeking to be elected the chief executive of the greatest state in the nation. There is a very simple solution to this situation. Release your taxes, Mr. White, and we can move forward with debate preparations.”

White's campaign quickly responded: 

"It's time for Perry to stop playing games and show up. Perry wants to hide from his failure on border security and his record of nearly doubling state spending, doubling state debt, and leaving us with an $18 billion budget deficit," said Katy Bacon, campaign spokesperson.

Perry's stance has been criticized by the state's top newspapers, which organized a debate for next month that will be co-hosted by Austin public television station KLRU. If Perry fails to show, White could take that stage alone. 

In other tax news, Perry released his 2009 return today (the governor requested an IRS extension): 

 

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