Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Crist needs to make full disclosure

Charlie Crist released 10 more years of his federal tax returns Thursday, but he did not go far enough. Sooner rather than later, he should release his wife's tax returns as well. Spouses of candidates for governor should anticipate they are giving up some personal privacy, and there are legitimate reasons that voters should see a complete picture of the personal finances of the families who want to move into the Governor's Mansion.

Gov. Rick Scott and Crist, the former Republican governor who is now a Democrat and the incumbent's likely opponent in November, have oddly traded roles in this squabble over tax returns. Scott is one of Florida's least transparent governors. He eschews email to avoid creating public records, releases skimpy public schedules and hides behind security concerns to prevent release of his detailed travel schedules involving his private plane even after the travel is completed. Yet Scott released three years of tax returns that he filed jointly with his wife and provided additional lists of his assets that have been in a blind trust.

Crist was a champion for open records as governor and one of the state's most accessible chief executives. He created the office of open government in the governor's office, provided details about his schedule and would insist that public records be released on occasions when reporters were having difficulty prying them loose from state agencies. Now he has released 13 years of individual tax returns but refuses to release the separate tax returns filed by his wife, Carole.

The issue is not whether Scott or Crist has released the highest stack of tax returns. The issue is presenting the fullest financial accounting so voters can evaluate any potential for conflicts of interest. Crist argues that his wife has her own businesses, but he is on the wrong side of precedent and Florida's reputation for openness. Four years ago, Democratic nominee for governor Alex Sink released her tax forms and those of her husband, Bill McBride, even though they filed separately. The public is smart enough to recognize that spouses often have their own business interests, and the gender of a candidate and a spouse should make no difference.

The purpose of the release of tax returns by candidates for governor and their spouses is not financial voyeurism. There is too much potential for couples to mingle assets or for public officials to hide or benefit from financial interests held in their spouse's name. An argument can be made that the release of tax returns by spouses of candidates for other public offices is unnecessary, but candidates for the most powerful elected office in Florida should be held to a higher standard and greater openness. The potential for conflicts of interest and corruption is simply too great.

Politics and marriage are package deals. Crist married while he was governor, and he knows if he wins his old job back in November that Mrs. Crist will live in publicly financed housing in the Governor's Mansion, enjoy protection from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and have a public role to play if she chooses. Like it or not, she became a public figure when she married a once and perhaps future governor who has spent much of his adult life in elected office. With that choice comes some loss of personal privacy, and Crist should release her income tax returns.

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Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18