Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) released his tax returns from the previous six years last week and called on his opponents — including Gov. Larry Hogan — to do the same.
The move was intended to set a standard of transparency broken by President Donald Trump, said Madaleno, who has spent over a decade in the Maryland General Assembly.
“We see the implications of Donald Trump not doing it and breaking tradition,” Madaleno said at the gubernatorial forum Wednesday.
Trump refused to release his tax returns in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first major-party candidate since Gerald Ford not to do so, according to Politifact.
“Marylanders are demanding their leadership rise above,” Madaleno said in a statement. “If you want to lead Maryland, you have to demonstrate openness, honesty and integrity.”
In March, Madaleno co-sponsored a bill which would have required presidential candidates to release tax returns from the past five years. Though it passed the Maryland Senate, the bill died in the House of Delegates.
Responses from six of Madaleno’s Democratic opponents have ranged from compliance to criticism of the senator’s tactics — or, in the case of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, none at all.
Madaleno voted against a Republican amendment to the failed bill that would have expanded the mandate to all statewide candidates.
“We’re saying the president should do this,” Madaleno said. “I don’t think it’s necessary for every elected official to do this.”
Hogan spokesperson Shareese Churchill did not respond to a request for comment. Likewise, Hogan’s office did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post or The Baltimore Sun.
A spokeswoman for candidate Krish Vignarajah, a former Michelle Obama policy director, said Vignarajah would release her tax returns if others did so, but criticized Madaleno’s actions.
“Let’s be clear though, the call to do so is an election stunt by someone who voted against legislation to require that this year,” spokesperson Elizabeth Waickman said in a statement. “While other candidates were resorting to political gimmicks, we were releasing comprehensive plans to act on climate change, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and address the economic challenges of Western Maryland.”
Kevin Harris, a spokesperson for the Ben Jealous campaign, told The Sun they have started compiling Jealous’ tax returns.
“This kind of transparency is long overdue,” Harris said, “and it’s ironic that many long-time politicians are only now raising this issue in the context of a gubernatorial campaign. Where was their leadership before now?”
Jim Shea, the former chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, agreed to release his tax returns in a statement “because candidates and elected officials should be held to a higher standard of disclosure, a hard-learned lesson in the era of Donald Trump,” he said.
“Jim believes that the Governor should release his as well,” said a spokeswoman for Shea, Kathryn Gilley, in an email.
Representatives for the governor did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
“I said I would,” candidate Alec Ross said at a gubernatorial forum Wednesday.
The tech entrepreneur and author previously told The Sun, “I would say I’m surprised that this isn’t required already, but the Annapolis establishment has shown its number one priority is self-preservation. I’ll release as far back as possible.”
A spokesman for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said the candidate has released a financial disclosure form for almost three decades.
“He’s been a public official for the better part of 30 years,” said the spokesman, Sean Naron. “For the county executive, someone who has been in the public eye and has those financial disclosures, there’s an understanding of where that money goes.”
Campaign representatives for Baker did not respond to a request for comment.
“We need to demonstrate that, regardless of the insulting indifference Donald Trump shows to the American people, we in Maryland will walk a different path and build trust and confidence between our people and those elected to represent them,” Madaleno said in a statement.
This article has been updated.