Government & Politics

Missouri governor debate off unless Eric Greitens releases tax returns

Chris Koster (left) and Eric Greitens
Chris Koster (left) and Eric Greitens

Democrat Chis Koster is threatening to pull out of a future debate with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens unless the GOP nominee releases his tax returns, something his campaign says it won’t do.

Koster, who is currently Missouri’s attorney general, released his tax returns covering 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 last week.

Greitens’ campaign previously said it would release his tax returns if Koster did, but last week told the Springfield News-Leader that decision was still being contemplated by Greitens and his wife.

There is no requirement for political candidates to release tax returns, which are otherwise a private document for most individuals. But it has become a tradition to do so for presidential candidates, as well as for those running for some other top offices. Donald Trump’s refusal to release his has become a key issue in this year’s race for the White House.

“This is pertinent information necessary for Missouri’s voters to assess what conflicts or contradictions exist between Mr. Greitens’ actual financial activity and his obligations should he be elected to serve as governor,” Andrew Whalen, Koster’s campaign manager, wrote in a letter to the Greitens campaign.

Whalen goes on: “Please consider the complete disclosures... as an absolute condition in order for our campaign to continue negotiating with yours regarding the terms and details of the contemplated Oct. 14 gubernatorial debate.”

Greitens’ campaign responded with a letter accusing Koster of being “terrified of debating.”

“We will not meet the arbitrary and political demands of crooked Chris Koster,” Greitens campaign manager Austin Chambers said in the letter, later adding: “Voters are sick and tired of these type of games that career politicians always play. Eric Greitens believes that there should be at least four more televised debates, but Chris Koster seems too scared to want even one more debate.”

In a follow-up email, Chambers told The Star that Greitens will not be releasing his tax returns.

See the Koster campaign’s letter to the Greitens campaign, and the Greitens response, below.

Greitens letter: