Setting a date for a tete-a-tete between Gov. Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White will take awhile. The Perry camp is refusing to debate White until the former Houston mayor releases more of his income tax returns. Belo Corp., the company that owns Tribune partner WFAA and TV stations in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, invited the two major gubernatorial candidates to debate this fall. White said yes, Perry said not so fast. WFAA's Brad Watson reports:
"Once he releases his income taxes and tells the public how he made his money while in public service and as a business person, we'll be more than happy to discuss debates," Miner said.
The Perry campaign demands White release returns for all six years he served as Houston's mayor and two years as deputy energy secretary in 1990s.
White has released only his 2009 tax return since he's running for a statewide office just as Perry has since 1991. White said he will disclose specific information when asked.
"We'll take in consideration releasing tax returns or parts of those tax returns," White said. "We've been providing information from them to journalists as time goes on. I just want there to be a standard that's applicable to all candidates.”
White claims there is private information about business partners on his returns and the financial disclosure forms required by the City of Houston are detailed enough about his income.
White's team says the power lies in the sponsor's hands. "It's up to WFAA and Belo to decide the criteria. Rick Perry's playing a political game here with WFAA," said Katy Bacon, the White campaign's spokesperson. "It's their choice, not his choice. If Rick Perry doesn't want to debate, he should just say so. As usual, he's just playing politics instead of focusing on Texas and Texas' future. This is his way of trying to avoid the debate."