Jaimes: Hubbell takes wrong approach in responding to criticisms

Gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell releases only partial tax returns, giving his opponent more reason to question his fit for office in a state that celebrates transparency.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa Democratic nominee for governor Fred Hubbell speaks at a campaign event at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City on Sunday, June 3. Hubbell will face off against incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds in November. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Marina Jaimes, Opinion Columnist

As of today, there are 56 days for Iowa voters to decide who will take the governor’s seat for the next four years. With time running out, tension is running high between Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Republican candidate, and Fred Hubbell, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

As with any race, the campaign for governor has seen its fair share of provocation. Not every claim warrants a response; many are just meant to build up support for the candidate doing the “provoking.” Giving in to provocation can often expose weakness in a candidate. Response to such criticisms can reveal much about that candidate, especially on how he or she would handle edgy situations.

After Reynolds vowed to uphold an Iowa tradition of releasing tax information, she released 10 years worth of complete tax information from her and her husband. Declaring that she would lead by example, many wondered if her opponent would do the same. Hubbell then gave in after many criticisms on the importance of transparency in government.

Just recently, Hubbell released partial tax returns in response to his opponent showing complete transparency. He held a three-hour private viewing for media only in which they could not take pictures or make copies of the returns. Although his returns give the amount he paid in taxes and gave to charity, they do not identify a source of income for Hubbell, who took in more than $3 million in 2017.

By not identifying the source of income, Hubbell has given in to his opponents who have long criticized him for unethical business practices that he seemed to have financially benefited tremendously from.

In his nomination for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate seat, Hubbell was forced to soften his tone after an interview with the DI. In that interview, Hubbell said, “Some labor unions are wonderful — there are corrupt labor unions, too … bad apples, bad actions, happens in all kinds of walks of life.”

He later went to Facebook to clarify the mischaracterization of his labor stance in a lengthy post, ending with “Let me be clear: I stand with labor, I will always stand with labor, and together we will grow a movement that stands up for hardworking families in every single corner — urban and rural — of this state.”

The need to backtrack on a statement that was fair and well-made to please few supporters has snowballed into Hubbell’s gubernatorial run. Not every criticism should invoke a reaction, especially in politics. When the reaction to criticism is an overreaction, like Hubbell’s, one can only wonder what there is to hide.

In Hubbell’s case, no tax information would have been better than partial information that could leave Iowans wondering where income is being generated. In a state that holds transparency as a tradition, Hubbell must learn what course of action is appropriate when concerning the sincerity of a candidate.