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Simon Sees Davis as 'Big Brother'

Politics: GOP hopeful says the governor's demand that he release his tax returns is unreasonable.

April 17, 2002|MICHAEL FINNEGAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon Jr. compared Gov. Gray Davis on Tuesday to Karl Marx and "Big Brother" for demanding that the GOP challenger release his tax returns to prove he paid his fair share of taxes.

"I don't even know what a fair share is," Simon said. "I mean, that sounds like somebody coming out of Moscow, you know? Their fair share. You know, Karl Marx talked like that."

Simon, a multimillionaire, said he had filed for an extension with the Internal Revenue Service. He said that with his "fairly complex financial holdings," he "could not be reasonably expected" to file his income tax returns by April 15.

The Democratic incumbent released his tax returns Monday and demanded that Simon do the same. Davis told reporters: "Part of running for governor is making available your tax return so people can see you're paying your fair share."

But on a San Francisco radio talk show Tuesday night, Simon rejected the governor's demand.

"Frankly, I think that people are deserving of a certain amount of privacy," he said.

Disclosure of income tax returns has become routine for candidates for high public office, but is not required by law. Davis released his tax returns Monday. They showed that he and his wife, Sharon Davis, had $200,352 in income last year.

"The mere fact that he discloses his tax returns doesn't mean that I've got to disclose mine," Simon said on KSFO radio's "Brian Wilson Show."

"I don't know who appointed Gray Davis the commissioner of the IRS," he said.

Simon went on to invoke George Orwell's book "1984."

The governor's "mind-set is one of big government, and Big Brother is watching," he said. "Big Brother will let you know if you've been behaving yourself. Quite frankly, Brian, I don't need Big Brother to tell me if I've been behaving myself."

Davis spokesman Roger Salazar responded: "What is he hiding?

"If you're going to go around criticizing the governor on the California state budget, I think Californians have a right to know whether he's paid into it," Salazar said.

On another matter, Simon sought to clarify his stand on offshore oil drilling.

"I am against offshore drilling off California with respect to new contracts," he said.

When a caller asked Simon about existing contracts, he responded, "No new rigs."

But the Davis campaign, which has tried to cast Simon as a threat to the environment, still questioned whether Simon would support the state's litigation against the Bush administration to maintain state control over existing oil-field leases.

"If he is saying he is standing with California against the federal government's effort to quash our review of oil leases, that's one thing," Salazar said. "But I'm just not sure I heard that."

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