“We Think That’s Sufficient,” Romney campaign says of releasing 2 tax returns. We Don’t.
April 6, 2012
“We Think That’s Sufficient”
– Romney campaign on releasing only the hundred-millionaire’s 2010 tax returns and an estimate of his 2011 return
That Wasn’t Sufficient Enough for George Romney or Senator McCain, and It’s Sure Not Sufficient for the American People
Nothing Short of Releasing the Same 23 Years of Tax Returns Romney Gave to Senator McCain Will Be Sufficient Especially in Light of the News Today that the former Governor “has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.” See Washington Post, Apr. 5
Reoccurring news like this about Romney going extraordinary lengths to avoid financial disclosure as he seeks the highest office in the land continues to invite questions, like what’s the big secret…
- We already know the international man of financial mystery whose campaign slogan is “Believe in America” has “An ordinary Swiss bank account” and “Parked Millions in Cayman Islands” – but, over the last 23 years, has Romney always been paying his fair share of taxes on all these offshore accounts? We can’t know unless he releases more tax returns.
- According to Romney himself, today he’s paying an effective tax rate “closer to the 15 percent rate” and his campaign recently complained about the “tax problem” of potentially having to pay more than 15% on his $100 million IRA – so how long has the hundred-millionaire been paying a lower effective tax rate than his secretary and were there years he paid an even lower rate? We can’t know unless he releases more tax returns.
- Given the Washington Post’s reporting below that “Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers” – how many other companies was or is Romney invested in that have offshored American jobs and how many companies did he suck profit from before they went bankrupt and laid off workers? We can’t know unless he releases more tax returns.
- Given recent reporting from the Boston Globe that “In 2007, as Romney prepared his first run for president, Brad Malt [the trustee responsible for overseeing Mitt Romney’s vast fortune] sold stock in dozens of potentially controversial companies, including casino operators, tobacco growers, and firms with ties to Iran. Last year, after Romney pushed for tougher trade sanctions against China, Malt dumped a number of Chinese holdings. He recently shed a money market mutual fund that had invested in government-backed mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are blamed for exacerbating the housing bust.” – What were those “dozens of potentially controversial companies” and what other “politically embarrassing” foreign investments were made? We can’t know unless he releases more tax returns.
- We know Mitt Romney’s father George Romney set the standard for presidential financial disclosure by releasing 12 years’ worth of returns. Does Mitt think father didn’t know best?
- We know Mitt Romney gave the McCain campaign 23 years’ worth of returns during the VP vetting process before they took a pass and went instead with the former Mayor of Wasilla. Did Senator McCain discover something disqualifying in Romney’s returns – something at odds with the interests of the American people? We can’t know unless Romney releases more tax returns – or Senator McCain tells us.
Romney using ethics exception to limit disclosure of Bain holdings
By Tom Hamburger, Published: April 5
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.
By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.
In 48 accounts from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in Boston, Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers.
Those are known only because Bain publicly disclosed them in government filings and on the Internet. But most of the underlying assets — the specific investments of Bain funds— are not known because Romney is covered by a confidentiality agreement with the company.
Several of Romney’s assets — including a large family trust valued at roughly $100 million, nine overseas holdings and 12 partnership interests— were not named initially on his disclosure forms, emerging months later when he agreed to release his tax returns.
Several outside experts across the political spectrum, however, say Romney’s disclosure is the most opaque they have encountered, with some suggesting the filing effectively defeats the spirit of disclosure requirements.
“His approach turns the whole purpose of the ethics statute on its ear,” said Cleta Mitchell, a Republican lawyer who has represented dozens of candidates and officials in the disclosure process, including Romney’s leading challenger for the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum.
Under pressure, Romney recently released hundreds of pages of tax returns for 2010 and estimated returns for 2011. A comparison of those returns with his federal and state “personal financial disclosure” reports and corporate filings at the SEC revealed dozens of discrepancies – and provided a window into what might emerge if Romney revealed the assets he holds in Bain accounts.
“I don’t know what legal authority exists for the federal ethics office to allow Mitt Romney not to disclose these assets,” said Mitchell, the Republican campaign lawyer. “The statute intends for presidential candidates to publicly disclose underlying assets.”
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Joe Sandler, a Democratic Party lawyer who has shepherded candidates and nominees through the disclosure process for 26 years. “Romney’s approach frustrates the very purpose of the ethics and disclosure laws,” he said.
Mitchell and several other Washington campaign lawyers say they advise candidates to reveal underlying assets, divest them if they cannot be disclosed or choose not to seek public office.
“My clients have had fund managers squawk about their ‘proprietary information’ and I’ve always been told, ‘There is no choice — the law requires disclosure,’ ” Mitchell said.
Canfield, the former Senate ethics lawyer, will not comment on Romney’s assets. But, he said, “I always counsel my clients to err on the side of disclosure” and to note on ethics forms “the same description of assets they would disclose to the IRS.” Doing so, he said, is in keeping with the spirit of the law and prevents embarrassing questions about discrepancies.