The swirling force of Texas politics

Perry: I'll Debate White If He Releases Taxes

By APRIL CASTRO
|  Thursday, Sep 2, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 PM CDT
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Perry: I'll Debate White If He Releases Taxes

Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston mayor Bill White.

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Republican Gov. Rick Perry says he won't debate Bill White unless the Democrat releases all of his tax returns by Sept. 15, issuing a deadline Thursday in the dispute that has become a long-running campaign standoff.

Perry gave the deadline as he released his 2009 tax returns, which showed he had income of $217,000 and paid $40,000 in taxes.

Perry, who has released all of his income tax returns dating back to 1987, has said repeatedly that he won't debate unless White releases all of his income tax returns from the years he's been in public service.

White's campaign e-mailed a statement accusing Perry of hiding.

"It's time for Perry to stop playing games and show up," said Katy Bacon, White's campaign spokeswoman. "Perry wants to hide from his failure on border security and his record of nearly doubling state spending, doubling state debt, and leaving us with an $18 billion budget deficit."

White, who has urged Perry to debate, has released income taxes from 2004 to 2009, when he was mayor of Houston, but not for the years he was deputy energy secretary or chairman of the Texas Democratic Party in the mid-1990s.

Both candidates have been invited to a debate sponsored by the state's largest daily newspapers and public television station KLRU on Oct. 19. The Austin American-Statesman reported that the event would take place even if only one candidate shows up.

"Texans are tired of waiting for Bill White to release his taxes, as am I," Perry said in a written statement. "I am eager to participate in a debate, as I have during previous statewide campaigns, but if Bill White refuses to be honest with the people of Texas about how he profited while serving the public, I will not share a debate stage with him."

Perry made $135,000 in his salary from the state and his wife, Anita, reported a salary of $65,000 from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. Perry also reported more than $5,000 in dividends from a blind trust.

The Perrys also reported giving $20,000 to charity, including a $15,000 donation to the Texas Governor's Mansion Restoration Fund.

"Bill White's staunch opposition to transparency is unbecoming of someone seeking to be elected the chief executive of the greatest state in the nation," Perry said. "There is a very simple solution to this situation. Release your taxes, Mr. White, and we can move forward with debate preparations."

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