Poll: How Much Transparency Is Enough for Gubernatorial Hopefuls?

NJ Spotlight News | April 20, 2017 | Polling
Right now, candidates deliver very few details about their financial assets and interests. Should we be seeing more?

Earlier this week, the personal financial disclosure forms that primary candidates for governor and other offices must file became public. While the forms report sources of income and assets, they contain no details about the size of a candidate’s pay, wealth (beyond whether it exceeds $1,000), and assets (like stocks and bonds) that provide $100 or more in income.

Meanwhile, the debate over Donald Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns prompted lawmakers — nearly all Democrats — to vote to send Gov. Chris Christie a bill that would require all future presidential candidates to provide their tax returns to the state Division of Elections to be posted online.

Some candidates for governor — notably Democrats Phil Murphy and Assemblyman John Wisniewski — already have privately “released” their tax information by allowing reporters to look at several years’ worth of returns but not make copies or post online. Others, including Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, say that’s not enough and that candidates should make their returns available online for all to see. As Christie’s lieutenant, she does post her income taxes online each year, as he does. There are no laws requiring candidates or elected officials to make their taxes public but it has been done by governors in recent years (and by presidential candidates other than Trump).

Open-government advocates have long called for greater transparency of candidates’ wealth and now some gubernatorial candidates have joined the call.

Should New Jersey require candidates for governor to disclose additional details about their income and wealth and, if so …

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