While taking an unsubstantiated whack at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's ethics on a Sunday public affairs show this week, Republican Tom Foley demanded that Mr. Malloy release his federal tax returns. That's a good suggestion, but it doesn't go far enough.
Mr. Foley should agree to release his own returns as well, if he again runs for governor. He recently announced formation of an exploratory committee. Same goes for Mr. Malloy, who has not yet revealed his intentions about running for a second term. Mr. Malloy defeated Mr. Foley by less than 1 percentage point in 2010.
Presumably Mr. Foley thinks the Malloy tax returns might cough up evidence to vindicate his claims about the governor's ethics. But the Greenwich millionaire doesn't seem nearly as interested in opening his own tax records to public view in the coming campaign.
Anyone who asks him to release his own tax returns would only be "trying to change the subject," he said.
Candidates who volunteer to release their tax records show that they trust voters, that they have nothing to hide, and — although it doesn't always hold true — that they just might be disposed to favor transparency in government.
Yes, it's a loss of some privacy, but tax returns paint a useful picture of candidates. Voters who inspect returns are given information that will give them a clue about candidates' biography, priorities, fiscal responsibility, risk of conflicts of interest and more.
Bill Curry, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2002, might be the reigning transparency champion. He released 12 years' worth of tax returns for public consumption during that campaign. Even Gov. John G. Rowland, whom Mr. Curry challenged that year, made public the returns for his years as governor.
Mr. Malloy released tax returns in 2010 after demanding that Democratic primary election opponent Ned Lamont show his.
In the same campaign, Mr. Foley released his returns for the previous tax year.
Candidates for governor in the 2014 election should make available several years of tax returns.