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Bridenstine declines challenge to release tax form

Associated Press Modified: September 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm •  Published: September 4, 2012

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A congressional candidate who released his most-recent tax returns said Tuesday he did so in an effort to establish trust with the electorate, while his opponent says financial documents submitted to the U.S. House's Ethics Committee are enough.

Democrat John Olson, who last month unveiled three years' worth of tax returns plus his military and academic record, said his request that Republican Jim Bridenstine do the same shouldn't be seen as a "cheap trick" with two months remaining before the election.

"I'm challenging the candidates," said Olson, a small businessman who is in the U.S. Army Reserve. "I think transparency is important."

Bridenstine, a Navy pilot who recently ran the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, has an "exemplary" record and financial disclosure forms on file with the House are sufficient, his campaign staff said Tuesday.

Bridenstine defeated incumbent Rep. John Sullivan in the June primary to advance to the November general election. During the primary campaign, Sullivan questioned Bridenstine's management of the Tulsa space museum, noting that it lost money while was chief — nearly $383,000 in 2009 and 2010, according to tax forms. Bridenstine maintained that the red ink was justified because he was trying to attract a retired NASA shuttle for the facility.

Olson said Tuesday he didn't release the documents as a political stunt and called on the Bridenstine campaign to release similar documents as a show of transparency to voters.

"Some people think it's a cheap trick, but I'm really just trying to get my name out there," said Olson. "I don't see a downside at all. The big thing that's prompting me is I'm seeking an office of public trust."

Independent Craig Allen, an airline pilot who also will be on the ballot, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.