Gov. Rick Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work, launched a new TV spot Wednesday that criticizes Democrat Charlie Crist for not releasing his federal income tax returns. But in the ensuing back-and-forth between the two campaigns, the tone took a decidedly more nasty turn.
"What's he hiding?" Scott's spot asks. Three hours after the Times/Herald posted an item about the commercial, Crist's campaign released his tax returns for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The Republican Party of Florida would not disclose the size of the ad buy or say which TV markets are showing it. Scott and his wife Ann released their joint tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012 when he filed his candidate qualifying papers last week, and Crist has said he'll release more years of tax returns. (Scott has not released his latest tax return, for 2013, because he and his wife requested an extension from the IRS).
"He's going to out-transparent me?" Crist said. Crist was adamant that he wouldn't release his wife Carole's taxes: "She's not running for office," Crist said. The campaign accused Scott of a "shameful new low" in Florida politics by trying to make a candidate's wife a campaign issue (Crist and his wife file separately).
Crist spokesman Kevin Cate posted on Twitter: "In one week, we've had Rick Scott's backers and campaign race-bait on radio and attack Charlie's spouse. And it's June."
Scott's TV ad shows a fleeting glimpse of Carole Crist, and the ad also notes that in 2010, Democrat Alex Sink released her tax returns along with those of her husband, the late Bill McBride.
In past years, Crist has routinely released his tax returns, as he did in March 2010 in his last campaign, an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, when he released his first and challenged his Republican rival, Marco Rubio, to do the same.