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Rick Scott Should Release His 2013 Tax Information if He Wants Anyone to Take Him Seriously Now

Rick Scott might be trying to recover this morning from one of the more idiotic and childish political blunders since barefoot Greeks first started tallying votes in the Acropolis. But the current governor of Florida actually might have a bigger issue starting today. Scott -- whose personal wealth is huge -- has declined to reveal his most recent tax return, citing that he'd applied for an extension. That extension is now up. So will the governor release his info?

The Broward Bulldog has done an admirable job dogging the administration over Scott's finances, particularly the details over Scott's blind trust, a vast octopus of financial investments that may extend into corporations that do business with the state. Or it may not. We can't know, because Scott hasn't released the details of the trust.

About all we know, according to paperwork filed for the campaign, is that in 2013 the governor has declared a net worth of $132.7 million -- a lot of money that could be in a lot of interesting places. The Bulldog has already unearthed instances where an energy company Scott's trust has invested in had contracts with Florida Power & Light. The administration has claimed this is kosher because Scott doesn't pull any levers or make decisions with the trust.

The 2013 tax return would have illuminated more of the particulars. But last April, Scott -- along with a lot of other Americans -- applied for a six-month extension. That was up on October 15. Yesterday.

As the Broward Bulldog reported yesterday, the governor's office and campaign didn't respond to inquiries about the tax return. Scott has released previous returns but, unlike his challenger Charlie Crist, still declines to release the 2013 document.

What happens next? If you want to get realpolitik about it, Scott might actually benefit from finally dropping his personal bank numbers on the public.

Last night was a huge public relations Hindenburg: The sheer awkwardness of Scott's presence onstage -- from his initial no-show to his weird last-minute Spanish shoutout -- pretty much obscured any talk on issues or policies. Hell, how can you even begin to think seriously about politics when you're looking at a candidate with such a glaring lack of social grace and self-possession? How can you take a grown man seriously who acts like a spoiled high school freshman?

A move like releasing the tax return would go a long way to reestablishing a serious tone to the Scott campaign. You want us to play ball, we'll play ball. As last night made abundantly clear, both Rick Scott and his campaign seem possessed by some bratty stubbornness, a total unwillingness to play ball unless the situation is to his liking, by his rules.

You saw it when he almost didn't debate over a picayune issue like a fan; you see it in his unwillingness to release tax documents. And after having that attitude boxed up neatly on live television last night, you're probably going to see it affect the coming polls.

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson

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