Obama ad hits Romney for alleged tax scandal
August 9th, 2012
05:32 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama ad hits Romney for alleged tax scandal

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign continued to hurl charges that Mitt Romney has a questionable tax history, releasing a new ad Thursday that links him to a tax avoidance scandal.

The 30-second ad, "Son of Boss," points to an op-ed published on CNN.com that was written by two tax experts, who claim Romney was involved with the reporting of a $70 million fictional tax loss when he served on the board of Marriott International from 1993 to 1998.

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"During that period," the op-ed states. "Marriott engaged in a series of complex and high-profile maneuvers, including 'Son of Boss,' a notoriously abusive prepackaged tax shelter that investment banks and accounting firms marketed to corporations such as Marriott."

The authors –Peter C. Canellos, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section and Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation–wrote that the "Son of Boss" tax shelter marked "perhaps the largest tax avoidance scheme in history" and cost the U.S. "billions in lost corporate tax revenues."

While Romney did not face criminal charges, unlike others linked to the scandal, the authors wrote "his endorsement of this stratagem provides insight into Romney's professional ethics and attitude toward tax compliance obligations."

Responding to the ad, Romney's campaign said Obama's team has "doubled down with another dishonorable and dishonest attack."

"In 2008, candidate Obama said ‘you make a big election about small things’ when you don’t have a record to run on. Since President Obama can’t run on record unemployment, falling incomes, and massive debt, he has decided to run a dirty campaign that is an affront to everything he claims to stand for,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.

In its new television commercial, the Obama campaign reiterates its call for Romney to release more tax returns and asks, "Isn't it time for Romney to come clean?" The campaign and top Democrats have raised questions about the candidate's reported offshore investments and overseas accounts in countries known as tax havens for Americans.

The Republican candidate, whose estimated worth is valued up to $256 million, has made public his tax return for 2010 and an estimate for 2011, with a pledge to release the full year once the documents are complete. He filed an extension for October.

While Romney says he will not release further taxes than what he has already made public, a majority of Americans disagree with his decision. According to a CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday, 63% of Americans said Romney should release additional tax returns.

Most recently, Romney has played defense against accusations made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who says an unnamed, "credible" source associated with Romney's former private equity firm, Bain Capital, told Reid that Romney went 10 years without paying taxes.

Responding to the allegations, Romney has staunchly denied the claims, even calling on the top Democrat to either "put up or shut up." In the wake of the controversy, Romney firmly said he paid his taxes in full.

"I have paid taxes every year. And a lot of taxes. A lot of taxes," Romney said Friday at a press conference in Nevada. "So Harry is simply wrong."

But that didn't stop Obama's team from pounding Romney again this week over the tax issue. The new ad also points to an ABC News interview, in which he was asked if he's ever paid a tax rate lower than 13.9%, his rate for 2010.

"I haven't calculated that. I'm happy to go back and look," Romney said.

Team Obama said the ad will run in the same states that Romney's bus tour will cross in the coming week, including Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio–all battleground states.


Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. NVa Native

    We don't care if you took every possible legal deduction, we want to know if you're a hypocrite and what would motivate you if you were ever elected.
    But of course if some one did pay say under 10% while making millions a year that would be clear evidence of how screwed up our tax code is and how wrong the GOP is for America.

    August 9, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. John

    The people, like a bank requesting tax records for a home loan,have the right to request every single piece of evidence they need to detemine the FITNESS for the job of President of the US and Commander in Chief......It should not be legally allowable for him to stonewall the American people

    August 9, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. 1twinsfan

    Romney asks for our votes. We have the right to ask for his taxes.

    August 9, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Tom Martin

    Come on now. It's not like Obama made money by cronyism now...or even purchased shares of GM and GE now..or did he? Most certainly did! Why is it that companies like GE don't pay ANY US corporate taxes, yet it's OK for them to be awarded federal contracts for "green energy"?

    August 9, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. CryBabies

    @ John...Tax records for sealed college transcripts. A very fair exchange indeed. But why would the POTUS pay $1,000,000.00 + to keep those from the voting people of the U.S? Doesn't sound transparent to me or probably not you either. Yes , i agree, no more stonewalling , lets see which one hurts which candidate the most!

    August 9, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. michael

    Romney oaid no tax for ten years? He owes son=me serious back tax.

    August 9, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    Rommney hood knows that he pay any taxes between 2000 and 2010. He paid taxes on his income for 2 years because that is what he is going to release. You could see the pain in his face when he release the 2010 taxes. When he release his 2011 taxes he will show that he paid a higher rate. Throw us a curve ball. We want to see all the hood taxes . To be potus you got to be an open book so all can read. Release the tax returns.

    August 9, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Kate

    Solyndra..bankrupt. US taxpayer dollars lost. GE..making money...federal grants...and not paying US corporate taxes. Hmmm. So taxpayers lost on both accounts. Jobs? Where the heck are they? How has this administration helped anybody, except those at GE? Where's the initiative to make any changes that do anything?! It's time for some real action, and not just hope for change. See ya Barry.

    August 9, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. UR Naive

    The FITNESS for the job of President is to see tax returns? How about educational records, and legal writings? Why are Obama's frozen from public access? That's hypocrisy for you. I rather know what the education is for a president than how wealthy he is.

    August 9, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. Jon

    if you dont like the rules ... change them ... Since the Democrats had total control of the government in the first 2 years of Obama, I guess it is Obama's fault that the rules didnt get changed.

    August 9, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. TVD

    The President has the least control out of all three branches. Clean out Congress. Term limits for all politicians. Prevent companies from "donating" to politicians. Decrease the military budget (we all have enough guns inside our houses for us to defend ourselves). Invest in education or there will be no need for the military as we will have below average workforce and in turn a weaker economy. Increase taxes to the rich and they will work harder to make more money. The rich will invest in projects which will lead to more jobs. But until the Government gets cleaned up nothing will change. Either Obama or Romney in office will change our fortunes.

    August 9, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. myviewis

    Peter C. Canellos is a lawyer, editor of The Boston Globe at the New York Times. Edward C. Kleingard is a law professor at USC, has a B.A in Medieval & Renaissance Studies, M.A in History and got his J.D. from Yale Law School. Where are their studies in accounting, economics, accounting tax law and how come neither is a CPA????? Come on this guys are both Democrats preparing the field to help Obama take down Romney.

    August 9, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    How can Romney ask the middle class to pay more in taxes when he gamed the tax system and paid no taxes for 10 years? What about those tax breaks Romney received for his fancy Olympic dancing horse? His tax breaks for the horse amounts to more than most Americans earn in one year, $77,000.

    August 9, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    Santorum (in all his stupidity), tried to warn you idiots but you didn't listen. You should have run Chris Christie but I'm glad you didn't. This guy Willard has far too many secrets for most people and that Mormon cult he belongs to doesn't help. There are far too many unanswered questions about this guy and I think the American people are gettting tired of it. Has anyone else noticed Ann is not coming out anymore because just like Willard, both are not liked, only tolerated. Do yourselves a favor republicans and start working with this president.

    Obama 2012

    August 9, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. Bill

    Hit 'em hard and hit 'em low. Keep it up dems. The Obama campagin has sucessfully defined Romney and it has stuck. That, coupled with inept campaign management, a flawed candidate, and serious character qualifaction issues all spell disaster for the GOP.

    August 9, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    GO Obama

    August 9, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. Mark

    "where there's smoke"...

    August 9, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Willard

    Well, he, probably, got some money back from the IRS. Just like many of us making 30-40K a year, paying taxes, then get few hundred dollars back. But, wait....... he is a milionare?

    August 9, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Rmoney needs to put up or shut up...simple math... I will have to assume that he paid no taxes because that it what is out there and a simple way to refute that is to provide us your tax returns... I have to do it everytime I am asked, why should he be any different...

    August 9, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. ron

    Imagine that! 63% of the American people say willard needs to realease his tax returns AND 63% of the American people say the president will win re-election. Hmmmmm Get a clue willard!

    August 9, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. G

    How has hope and change worked? 23 million people out of work, the IRS refuses to go after tax cheats under Obama's leadership. His campaign lies and denies that is what his leadership is all about. Wake up America we can't tax our way out of this mess. Our debt is out of control and our Leader thinks that spending is the answer. If he ran a company and 8.3 percent of the workers were out of a job, and added the debt that Obama added, he would be FIRED. He said in 2008 that it was anti American to add debt, he added more debt than all of the presidents before him. Romney is our only hope. When was it evil to work hard and be successful. Don't believe the lies and denies Team. They can't run the post office, how are they going to run our health care?

    August 9, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. leftywriteagain

    Have you ever went into your hotel room, in the middle of it being cleaned by housekeeping? Its seems more messy than the way you left it. But come back when its completed and it is cleaner than the way you left it. Obama is cleaning the big mess left by the GOP for eight years, and its not complete. But the pubs want to bash him and his policies at all cost, and act like george w. and his antics didnt exist. And they are now trying to duplicate that disaster electing a clone. We cant do that anymore. OBAMA FOUR MORE!!!!

    August 9, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. MTATL67

    McCain thought something was so politically damaging that he chose Palin. Why is Romney willing to take the political hit and defy the public’s request for him to release his taxes. It make it seem that he has something to hide – NOT PRESIDENTIAL

    August 9, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. GOP put the $ in "chri$tian" when 60% of the GOP thought those less fortunate did not need help!

    No one believes taking advantage of tax loop holes is illegal, we just want to see the years of 1999-2002, to verify who you have lied to, the SEC when you said you were the sole owner in 2001, or the "Amercian" electorate in 2012.

    If there is $100,000 of salary from "Bane", then you got some 'esplain' to do.

    And until you show those tax years, "you people" have a couple of words for Mitt the Twit.

    The second one is indeed "you" and let's just say, the first one is an "action verb".

    You may want to buy a vowel!

    August 9, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  25. ralph malph

    The people have a right to know your tax practices. After all, you are who may be reforming the tax code. If you are someone who skirted the system, how can we trust you with steering our tax obligations? It has been reported that you were masterful at relieving the Marriott corporation of their far share of tax obligations. Isn't that like having a fox guard the chicken coop? Mr Romney, come clean if you expect to lead our great nation!!!

    August 9, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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