Romney called for tax transparency in past campaigns
July 16th, 2012
09:19 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney called for tax transparency in past campaigns

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney has steadfastly refused to release more than two years of tax returns despite mounting pressure from the Obama campaign and even some fellow Republicans, who are beginning to grumble both publicly and privately that Romney should disclose more details about his income and put the nagging issue behind him.

Romney says that two years of tax returns are sufficient, and that he's fully complied with the law by revealing his full 2010 return and an estimate of 2011 tax information (he plans to make the full return public once it's finalized).

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That stance is mostly consistent with Romney's position during his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor.

Romney's Democratic rival that year, Shannon O'Brien, released her tax information and called on Romney to do the same.

Romney repeatedly declined.

"People who run for public office are exposed to extraordinary scrutiny and that's as it should be, but there are some things that are not required for release, that are private, and I think my own income taxes, and my net worth and so forth are things I'd like to keep between myself and my family," Romney said in May 2002, according to the Boston Herald.

His longtime strategist Eric Fehrnstrom cited the family's "privacy" and noted that state law did not require candidates to provide anything more than a financial disclosure form filed with the state Ethics Commission.

But Romney has also called for greater tax transparency in the past when it served his political purposes.

In the 2002 race, Romney sought to turn Enron into a campaign issue when it was revealed that O'Brien's husband, Emmett Hayes, had lobbying ties to the scandalized energy and commodities firm.

Hayes had filed his taxes separately from O'Brien – and Fehrnstrom, then Romney's deputy campaign manager, demanded that O'Brien come clean about her husband's financial ties to Enron.

"Her hands aren't clean," Fehrnstrom said, according to the Herald. "She can't claim to be disclosing anything until she discloses the returns of her husband, the Enron lobbyist. Under Shannon O'Brien, the state Pension Board lost millions by buying Enron stock when it was collapsing - what is she hiding?"

Fehrnstrom made the demand even as Romney was refusing to release his own returns.

That drew accusations of hypocrisy from editorial boards, but Fehrnstrom defended the campaign's posture, saying that O'Brien was trying to hide important information from voters by declining to reveal her husband's returns, while Romney was simply acting on principle.

The tax return issue also made an appearance in Romney's first political campaign, his 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy.

In that race, Romney assumed the role of transparency advocate.

"It's time the biggest-taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes," Romney said in April of 1994, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Romney said he would release his own tax returns if Kennedy did, but the Senator refused - and so Romney did as well.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Karyn

    After all the needless and infantile whining down by the GOP the past 5 five years, trying to defeat the president before he step foot in office with blatant frathouse lies of birtherism, nanny statism, communism...the list goes on and on...and now there is a legit concern about romney and they whine about it? What the Eff? I did not think the president had the cojones to dish it back, but I am so glad he is. What comes around goes around.

    July 16, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Karyn

    What comes around, goes around. Just release your taxes or zip it with the complaints mittens. If you were not really the head of bain capital in 200/1, there should be no issue with releasing your tax records....there should be no record of bain derived income, since you know, you did not work there.....The guy does not even lie well.

    July 16, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. A Kickin` Donkey

    The standard and/or expectation for a person seeking the Presidenc should be equal to OR GREATER than that of someone seeking to join the President`s Cabinet.

    As an open minded, thinking voter, I really can`t square having the secretary of labor provide 10 years of tax returns for his/her confirmation while Mitt Romney skates by on 1-to-1.5 years worth of carefully massaged information.

    Mitt seems to be a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of person.

    July 16, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. King

    is mitten hiding more stuff from the american people. I guest the only thing he has left is to call his rich backers and repubs congress to spread fare and gloom over the economy, so folks stop spending, so they can blame Obama. hey the strategy seems like it's working.

    July 16, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. Tom

    Willard Romney wants to be the out-sourcer in chief.

    July 16, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Tony

    Romney would not pass the first round of vetting if a vice president candidate could vet his or her running mate.

    July 16, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Buckeye

    This guy is the biggest hypocrite and flip-flopper in the history of politics. I'm not sure he realizes that he is interviewing for the most powerful position in the land and he's going to try and cower behind "privacy". While in times past calling out opponents for not releasing multiple consecutive years of returns. Wow. This Romney guy just does not get it.
    All I know is he was against taking a stand on SB5 here in Ohio until he got his marching orders to say he was anti-union. Now he really appears shady and makes me wonder just how much he profited from killing American jobs to make a buck in China and other places like Bermuda. Thank goodness this creep is not doing well in Ohio.

    July 16, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Obama 2012 - MOVE Forward America, NOT another round of DUBYA's FAILURES

    Romney needs to get over it and release his returns. In the unlikely event that he wins in Nov, they are all going to have to go into a blind trust anyway...(required by law for the duration of his presidency) so all of that info will be distributed anyway!

    July 16, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. TomNPitt

    You can say you're whatever you want to say you are in speeches, in front of people who are pulling for you.
    But your taxes say what you want to be known as legally, and some things you don't want to be know as.
    Not releasing his returns says it's none of your business what I'm like; because everybody takes full advantage of tax loopholes. As Lindsay Graham says, everybody embellishes – it's a game not to pay taxes. Don't pay any attention to what my SEC filings say, because they're never accurate. There's nothing unusual about my off-shore accounts. Anyone can do it. Romney says he doesn't have any idea where that money is, nor does he know how much money there is. A few things we do know through all of this – he doesn't keep track of his money; he doesn't have any idea how much he has, and he lets everyone else manage it for him. But he will really be a hands on President!

    July 16, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. ghostriter

    Man, he just doesn't get it. How many times is this guy going to be totally for something before he is totally against it? The spin doctors have got to be rather dizzy.....I mean busy.

    July 16, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. DB in AR

    This is turning into a fiasco. He will start to sink like a stone in the polls. The cry baby news interviews that he did FINALLY on the other networks besides his pet FOX will do nothing to quiet the noise. He just gave the administration more ammo. There is more to come. It's July wait till after the conventions. He will wilt like a flower in the West Texas sun.

    July 16, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. s

    Every time he opens his mouth, he inserts his foot, keep up the good work Mittens.

    July 16, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.

    Look! Willard released 20 years of tax returns for Sen. McCain while being vetted for VP in 2008. What did the McCain campaign discover in those returns that made them choose the "Imbicilla from Wasilla" over Willard? There is something very damning in those returns that he doesn't want the public to know about it.

    July 16, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. Reggie from LA

    It's as if he can do anything he wants and doesn't have to answer to anybody. What a hypocrite!! Dam!! Is that what BIG $$ does to people? Make them pushy, soulless and willing to fire people? He has his. Why worry about anyone else. He was a one-term Governor, lost the VP bid to Sarah Pain (Sorry, I forgot the "L") Palin and resets like Etcha-Sketch. He's trying to come back from his gubernatorial failure (probably because he was only using the office MA gave him as a launch pad to the presidency). That would be a loose cannon in the White House...if we're dunce enough to put him there. I believe at least, that we're certainly stupid enough to try.

    July 16, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Dave

    The hypocrisy of the media is amazing. When you look at the lack of vetting in 2008 compared to now, the bias is obvious. In addition, the media has failed to report on all of the broken promises by Obama.

    July 16, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. TAK

    I am confused. Is Mitt Romney a flip-flopper on tax transparaency, or just an opportunistic hypocrite?

    July 16, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. thats funny right there

    romney is a joke

    July 16, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. once upon a horse

    as the GOP mantra has been since Obama took office "that was then, this is NOW" meaniing stuff they did before he was in office and may have supported or requested are no longer valid. At least until maybe a Republican is in the White House.

    July 16, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. King

    Americans needs to stop the taxcuts before it get to the rich at the top, because thats the last time they will see that money, because it will be going to countries without child labor laws, swet shops, just to bypass american expensive middle class wages. america we need to stop this out sourcing of billions of dollars, before it gets to the rich, and use the money building bridges, roads, schools, and our general infrastructure. stop this massive outsourcing by romney and the rich before it's too late. Obama might be the last chance we've got who will fight for the people's interest.

    July 16, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Senses

    I would like to see his 1999-2002 returns .. wonder if $100K in board fees from Bain are reported, because if it is , then he has a lot to explain. Enough already Mittens, release your tax returns and put it to rest if you can .. oh yeah .. right you can't .. I bet if the release of these years were to your advantage we would not be having this issue .. were we ?

    July 16, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Karl

    This clownshoe is so obviously afraid that his status as a 1%er is going to ruin his chances at buying the presidency. How anyone could vote for a guy who can't stick to a point of view is beyond me. He only wants transparency when it suits him. Shocking.

    July 16, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. American

    Retroactive Romney still lacks transparency & refuses to show Americans anymore information as every presidential candidate has done since his father.

    President Obama 2012

    July 16, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Anne P

    Imagine if this was Obama taking this stand! Fox Noise would be in a hissy fit, was would their troll followers. GOP hypocrisy at its best.

    July 16, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. Myviewis

    Ted Kennedy refused to release his tax returns back in 1994 and noone complained about it, people didn't have a problem with Ted Kennedy, people didn't think bad of Kennedy, nor did people accuse Kennedy of hiding something bad, people didn't think that Kennedy was hiding proof that he didn't pay a fair share of tax bracket or that Kennedy kept offshore bank accounts, offshore business investments. So if it was good for Kennedy than why not for Romney???? And Kennedy did win the election without releasing his tax returns as Romney had asked him to do. I don't see a problem with Romney only releasing 2 years of tax returns, Kennedy proved it was not necessary to go further than that.

    July 16, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. ERH

    Romney will stop calling the Barrack staff a group of lairs when Barrack's staff stops lying. No whining here, just calling a spade a spade.

    July 16, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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