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. Jeb

    Romney could very easily silence his many critics by simply releasing his tax returns like every other Presidential candidate in the last 36 years.

    Unless Reid is right and he paid 0% for 10 years.

    August 9, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Gordon

    There's something huge in those tax returns, something he's trying desperately to hide, whatever it is it's a game changer.

    August 9, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Nathan

    Yes, jump on this bandwagon obama. Just like with the birthers, these taxers as I like to call them will cost you your election dark meat

    August 9, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. G

    Don't blame Romney or the GOP for our TAX Code, The Democrats have been in power for a lot longer than the GOP ever was. Most people fail to admit they are jealous of the hard working American who are successful. According to the OMB,the top 5% of taxpayers pay 64% of the taxes, the other 95% pay 36 %. Is that FAIR? What about all the wasted money invested in green energy? Who made those decisions? The Chinese are investing in A123, a battery company that we the Taxpayers have invested millions in. another Obama mistake!!!!!!! Why didn't Obama and the Democrats change the tax code? They controlled the Senate, House and the White House for 2 years. They could have done that but they focused on spending money we don't have.

    August 9, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    If I have too show 3 years worth of tax returns to buy an $80,000 house, surely asking for 10 years worth of returns from someone aspiring to be the leader of the free world, is not too much to ask!

    August 9, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. USA

    The only thing Mitt has stuck to his entire life in politics..Is refusing to release his tax returns.

    August 9, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Mikey

    I believe Mr. Romney is one of the biggest con on the American polital scene. From tax avoidance schemes–placing funds in tax havens under the radar of the IRS to manipulating business schemes for his benefit, it is clear this individual does not possess the character qualities to be President. Show your tax returns Mr. Romney, you are asking the American people to totally trust you to lead our country and command our Armed Forces. You are such a patriot, that neither you or your five sons have done anything in the national interest. You evaded the draft by hiding out in Paris, claiming religious studies. many thousands of less fortunate Americans gave their live in honor of serving their country. You claimed during the last time you ran for the office that your sons were serving you, while you pursue national office. All the while, preaching to the military choir about what a strong leader you would be. Mr. Romney, you are a con man of the highest order–start salivating your defeat.

    August 9, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. jane

    I for one want to know "for myself" what could possibly be so bad about those tax returns....just let the chips fall where ever they may and show the taxes...Enough Already!!!

    August 9, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. Andrew Allison

    Give me a (tax) break. ""Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands." Judge Learned Hand, 1935. Let's take a good look at the returns of our elected, so-called "representatives" in Congress (oops, they won't permit that) before we start insinuating the Romney has done something illegal, immoral or fattening.

    August 9, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    There's a simple way to put this matter to rest, but we all know Mittens does not have the stones to do it.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    August 9, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    When my husband and I bought our house 16.5 years ago, we had to produce tax returns for the previous six years as a condition of our loan.

    Mittens wants to be POTUS; if he wants the job, he needs to allow the American people to fully vet him. PERIOD.

    August 9, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    How could Romney possibly had paid his fair share of taxes when he hid money in Switzerland, Cayman Island, Bermuda and who knows where else. This country has served this Romney family above and beyond and yet not one generation of Romney has ever served in our U.S. Military. Romney is unfit to be President of this United States and should apply for President where he outsourced jobs and hid his money.

    August 9, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. Sandy

    Wow! Just imagine the dirt the Democrats have on Romney for this to come out so soon. Slow down, Mr. President. Don't knock Romney out before the convention.

    August 9, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    I, for one, would like for the President to run on his record, eventually.

    The first year and a half, we saw a tremendous turnaround from the mess left from years of repug policies.

    Bush had a rubber stamp Congress for six years, then vetoed anything the dems tried for the next two years, resulting in job loses of over 750 THOUSAND per month.

    Within a year and a half, we were gaining 200thousand per month, then the repugs got the ability to filibuster in the Senate.

    Why not tell Americans about THAT???

    August 9, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Central Illinois Idiot

    Can we really doubt that Romney, and probably many other members of the rich elite pay a minimum of tax? U.S. corporations that make billions pay little or no tax compared with their income. So why should we think that the rich elite would pay their fair share? They probably use the same accounting firms as their corporations to do their taxes. Most regular middle class people probably pay more taxes than these rich bozos, if they're still working, that is.

    Romney won't put up his taxes returns because they will show he is a shrewd business man making tons of money, and keeping it off-shore to hide it from his own government.

    August 9, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Thaw

    It amazes me to see people actually thinking that Romney would even make the grade as a President. This man is not Presidential material. He cannot manage his own team no matter manage a country. He is obviously holding back on releasing his taxes due to some form of problem otherwise the whole mess would have been cleared by bringing them out into the open. Romney does not want to answer any questions relating to his life . Does he not realize that when one is a President of a country your life should be out in the open along with any financial dealings.

    The poor misguided person that he is seems to be running out of steam!!!

    August 9, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. RealityCheck

    Since when does Obama or Romney care about anyone except their own agenda? That's what's wrong with America. One guy says Obama cares and Romney doesn't or vice versa. The Truth is that they each only care about their personal agendas while we argue about who's better for the country, we are slowly losing everything. Sad, sad, sad. Wake up folks.

    August 9, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. Thaw

    Obviously Romney has no idea what happens with his taxes ; so he says !!!!! – He only wants to make money and more money. It seems that his dish water would look even more dirty if he actually showed all the tax returns. The man is a liar and always will be a liar.

    August 9, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  19. Thaw

    Really and truthfully who really cares !!!! All of the people he has to choose from are not much of a muchness.

    August 9, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. DFW Dann

    Americans have avoided a "POTUS tax scandal" since Richard Nixon because Romney's father started the tradition of releasing a dozen years worth of tax returns. His statement that he doesn't want to give the democrats a chance to distort his record doesn't hold water as the tax returns speak for themselves.

    August 9, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. Tubby the Tuba Texasc

    This is only the beginning of it for Romney!! It only gets worse from here on in!

    August 9, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Lisa P

    Just because a deduction is legal doesn't mean it's right. But, hey, if Mitt Romney wants to claim he did the right thing, he should be willing to back that up with some proof. One thing I like about President Obama is that he has always been willing to admit to his weaknesses and his failures and to move on. Sure he's been attacked for it, but a truly honorable man can weather that storm, and Obama has. Romney? I'm not so sure about. He talks a very empty game.

    August 9, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  23. fredisdead

    GOP the former alternative and government in waiting is now a bunch of rabid ideologues that cannot solve a single American problem. You're not going to solve much by giving freebies to rich people and not addressing glaring national issues! You have given us little choice but to re-elect Obama!

    August 9, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  24. enuff

    Romney's past has come back to haunt. The same theme keeps coming up over and over and over... different events but the outcome is the same. He took advantage for personal wealth, to heck with the little guy. If elected president, it will happen again. Rules will be changed to benefit him personally (and his chronies).

    August 9, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Michael

    Well, I think if Robme can show them to Mccain for VP vetting, why not for the vetting process for President! CNN, ! Repugligan's game has no shame, just dishonesty, lies, distortions, veiled and subliminal erratic political gamesmanship, that leave the American people toothless, when it comes to policies that will benefit them not the rich, corporations or just say the top 1 percent! Repuglicans vision, the, evaporation of 1/2 trillion surplus, -8.9 GDP, 11 trillion national debt, 1.3 trillion deficit, 2.8 trillion in tax cuts (unpaid for)2 Wars (unpaid for), Medicare prescription plan (unpaid for), 3 trillion borrowed from China, a Wall Street, Banking, Auto, Mortgage crisis’s, losing over 800,000 jobs monthly and a economy on the brink of depression when President Obama took office!

    August 9, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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