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Koster pulls plug on more debates until Greitens produces his tax returns

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor, says he’s doing no more debates with Republican Eric Greitens unless Greitens releases his tax returns.

Koster made public his last four years of returns last week.

Greitens says he’s keeping his returns private, and he accuses Koster of backing out of any more debates because he’s “running scared’’ after their only joint appearance last week.

The campaigns for both men dug in on their stances by late Tuesday, underscoring that they weren’t shifting unless their rival did.  It’s unclear if that will happen.

Koster began the dispute with his release Tuesday  of a letter he sent to Greitens, in which he gave the Republican until 5 p.m. Thursday to release his returns. Koster said the tax returns are “pertinent information necessary for Missouri’s voters to assess what conflicts or contradictions exist between Mr. Greitens’ actual financial activity and his obligation should he be elected to serve as governor.”

Until Greitens’ returns are made public, Koster said he was suspending any debate talks.

The two had been scheduled to participate in a televised debate October 14 in St. Louis. Greitens has been pressing for far more.

So far, their only joint appearance has been the forum last week in Branson, which was hosted by the Missouri Press Association.

From left, Independent Lester Turilli Jr., Libertarian Cisse Spragins, Democrat Chris Koster, Republican Eric Greitens, and Don Fitz of the Green Party
Credit Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio
From left, Independent Lester Turilli Jr., Libertarian Cisse Spragins, Democrat Chris Koster, Republican Eric Greitens, and Don Fitz of the Green Party

Greitens contended in his written reply that Koster was trying to avoid discussion of the issues. “Chris is clearly trying to hide the fact that he is a big-spending liberal who wants to raise taxes and expand Obamacare,” Greitens campaign said in a statement.

“…The bottom line is, Chris Koster is terrified of the movement behind Eric Greitens and is too scared to face him in another debate.”

Koster's campaign asserted that Greitens apparently was too scared to release his financial information.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.