Early returns still out for GOP hopeful Jason Plummer
BY CAROL MARIN Sun-Times Columnist
Jason Plummer wants to be our next lieutenant governor. But the wealthy, first-time Republican candidate from Edwardsville seemed irritated when pressed about his refusal to release his income tax returns.
I think the irritation should be ours.
At 28, Mr. Plummer is not inclined to start at the bottom of the state ladder. Instead, he is shooting for one rung from the top.
As state Sen. Bill Brady's running mate, he seeks a job a heartbeat -- or an impeachment -- away from the governor's mansion. Something Gov. Quinn knows quite a bit about.
Brady and Plummer appeared before the Sun-Times editorial board Tuesday to talk about their candidacies and why they are superior to Quinn and running mate Sheila Simon.
Why, I asked, are we not seeing your tax returns, given that Quinn, Simon and Brady have voluntarily provided their own-
"I'm coming from the private sector," answered Plummer. "I didn't serve in the public sector last year."
Plummer is vice president of R.P. Lumber, his family's business. It is involved in property development, real estate.
The argument he makes for not disclosing his tax returns, ironically, seems to beg for disclosure: "When you have national publications claiming we have elected officials in Springfield that shape public policy, spend taxpayer money, making millions upon millions of dollars in the private sector, and we don't see their tax returns, I just find it interesting that mine are of such interest," Plummer said.
One way to look at it, I guess.
But even former Gov. George Ryan, now in prison, and Rod Blagojevich, who's heading there, disclosed their income taxes.
And as Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney pointed out to Plummer, Blagojevich's tax forms provided the public with the first clue that convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko was paying Patti Blagojevich.
Plummer wasn't budging. He told the editorial board he did what Illinois law required by filing a "Statement of Economic Interests" with the state.
"That's the most incomprehensible, terrible, convoluted form known to man," scoffed Dennis Czurylo, a former supervisor for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division who has put many a politician in jail. "Government purposely uses these obscure and useless forms," he said, because they "don't disclose what a federal tax form does," things like debt and land trusts.
Plummer offered another objection: Disclosure would somehow "reveal the confidential information of . . . family and friends."
Cindi Canary, head of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, has a stern response: "Balance your interests against the citizens of Illinois. Don't run for office then."
Plummer didn't mask his exasperation, telling the Sun-Times, "When we're elected on Nov. 2, I'll be more than happy to use . . . your interest in my tax return as leverage to force a lot of folks in Springfield to show their tax returns."
One, Mr. Plummer, that would be too late.
Two, leadership means doing more than the minimum required.
And three, your running mate, Sen. Brady, promises "complete transparency."
You're making him look bad.