Quick test: When you think Craig James, what comes to mind?
A. SMU and New England Patriots football player and long-time sports announcer. B. Texan, father, husband. C. Who the hell is Craig James? D. Senate candidate and taxpayer.
You're right! And today, James took his "plethora of experience" to "Real Street" (it's like Main Street, but more transparent) at Sammy's Barbeque in, yes, Uptown, where he announced that he would release his past five years' worth of tax records. No, he had not yet filed his campaign personal finance disclosure firm, but he said he'll get to that soon. After all, he just announced his candidacy last month. In the meantime, he's jumping right ahead to his personal docs. And he calls upon his competitors for Kay Bailey Hutchison's Texas Senate seat to do the same.
"I think that as we seek higher office, it's important for folks to really get to know us," he said. "Is it an invasion of privacy? Absolutely. But I have opted to step into this arena of public service, so therefore it's important for me to open up so that people get a chance to know all they can about me. I hope that the other candidates will follow suit. I think they should. I think it's a responsibility that we have to be as transparent as we possibly can."
Is he paying his fair share of taxes?
"Absolutely ... I'm paying what the law says I'm supposed to pay." Otherwise, he'd be shooting himself in the foot once the public gets a chance to comb through the tax documents posted on his website today.
James noted that his tax docs show that like many Americans, he's had a tough run in this economy.
"I've had to make the interest payments to the debt on my assets," he said. His gross personal income shrank to $260,730 in 2010 from a five-year high of $4,210,677 in 2006. Most people at the intersection of Real Street and Main Street would agree that's a steep drop but, yeah, still not too shabby.
And while tax documents provide only the slightest insight into the moral fiber of a person's being, James wants people to know there's more to him than financial disclosure and athletic prowess.
"I have a plethora of my experiences in my life, whether that was making it as a professional athlete, being a rancher, broadcaster, the broadcasting school that I opened and ran for 10 years, the business that I have had have given me a broad perspective of reality -- real street," he said. All of that, in addition to being a husband and dad, are the reasons he believes voters should elect him as senator.
"I'm talking about understanding the challenges of life. I think life is what qualifies you to be a U.S. senator," he said. That, and opening your books for the world to see.