Our SD33 State Senator, guardian of all that’s important to him [and his party], is once again taking a lonely position. He will not release any information regarding his income tax filings in the current and/or near past.  Candidates release their income tax information to a) enhance their public service image, and b) show to the voting public (and press) that they are ‘clean and free’ from special influencers.

Over the decades this disclosure has become a traditional political practice presented to the populace from those running for state offices.  In this day and age, has this become an unreasonable request or expectation?  Given the extent and level of avarice that exists in all sectors of society, it is critically important that “we the people” take the time to listen, question and exam the character, background and history of those who wish to be our ‘representatives’ – our voices and political leaders.  

Senator Osmek may in fact believe that this is a ‘privacy’ issue that he alone can take a solid position on. In some ways, I get that.  However, it rubs us the wrong way and history reveals this has worked for the greater good. We have become accustomed to candidates releasing this information as a matter of course.  So this campaign milestone may only be an implicit expectation begot by scores of election cycles and media, it is not a campaign ‘rule’.  Irrespective of the rules and campaign laws, the fact is, the populace want candidates for certain high government offices to release their income tax filings to demonstrate that they are ‘self made’, ‘middle aged with a middle-class income’, ‘struggling activist’ or whatever. The objective has not changed – to ‘show to the world’ that the respective candidate is not beholding or under the [overt] influence of ‘others’.  And, to substantiate that the candidate’s income is not from criminal activity. 

My advice to candidate Osmek is as follows:

“Dave, show it or get out.”  You are not in any position to be the party’s poster boy for ‘privacy’ issues. Plus, your reputation for use of bullying tactics does not help your ’cause’.  If you are serious about running for Governor, State Senator Osmek, then disclose your income tax information. Otherwise, the implication is that your sources are ‘suspicious’ and/or your numbers are –‘unexpected’.  

Here’s a simple litmus test regarding whether or not to disclose income tax information  – a citizen’s expectation is to simply confirm that you receive a reasonable income based on what we know about how you make a living.  In your situation, the constituency would expect to see an income that is in keeping with your sources of income, such as, your ‘real’ job as a ‘project manager’ for a very large health insurance corporation, plus your state senator pay, and then perhaps there’s something more from investment transactions, or a distribution from a family business, or royalties, or an inheritance, or lawsuit settlements, or consulting, or casino winnings, or whatever… .  Disclosure increases the perception of openness and honesty, whereas, refusal raises suspicions and weakens trust.”   

“So. Tell me.  What exactly is your reason/rationale for not disclosing?”

“Wait, wait.  Hold on. Ya know what?  Forget it. I don’t care what your reason or rationale or principled position is for not disclosing. I’d expect that most professional political pundits would put your future something like this –  If you don’t disclose, you will not be considered as a serious candidate by the citizenry and your gubernatorial campaign will fade quickly and you’ll be one of the forgotten, quickly eclipsed, candidates who couldn’t garner any serious money, endorsements, traction with the public and consequently you’ll fade and drop out.”   

“Look Dave, to be taken seriously you must first clear a few bars. These standards have proven effective in ‘weeding out’ the unqualified candidates for state wide public office (aka ‘the big arena’) and income tax disclosures by candidates is one of them.  Davey… If you wanna play in the big arena, ya gotta play by the big arena rules. Capisce?! “

“Whenever I see Osmek mentioned in the media, I can’t help myself, because the thing that comes immediately to mind is that old pop song  ‘Alone Again, Naturally’ (by Gilbert O’Sullivan).  Seems to me that would be a fitting, albeit ironic, campaign theme song for our state senator from the 33rd district in his quest for the mansion on Summit Avenue. 

– John Borowicz, Citizen