We believe, as George Romney did 44 years ago, that the American people have the right to know how a presidential candidate earned his wealth, how and where he invests it, and whether he pays his fair share of taxes.
Long before Vanity Fair published its investigation of Mitt Romney and the millions of dollars he has stashed in tax havens around the globe, Romney had cemented his position as the most secretive candidate we've seen in decades. But last week's article is an important one. In revealing a man who has always put maximizing his own profits ahead of everything else, it raises a number of questions that demand answers—and tax returns—from the Romney campaign. Until we get them, we won't know whether he invested his money in places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to intentionally avoid paying U.S. taxes.
It's unprecedented for a presidential candidate to hide so much information about his personal finances. It was Romney's own father, George, who set the standard in 1968 when he ran for president, and his reasons are just as valid today. As Paul Krugman writes in today's New York Times, "The public understandably wanted to know both how [George Romney] had grown so rich and what he had done with his wealth; he obliged by releasing extensive information about his financial history." The senior Romney provided 12 years of tax returns because he felt that "one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show."
One year—that's all his son has released to the American people, and only after he was heavily pressured to do so. Keep this in mind: Romney refuses to be transparent with the voting public, but four years ago, he supplied John McCain's presidential campaign with 23 years' worth of tax returns to be vetted as a potential running mate (and McCain chose Sarah Palin).
We believe, as George Romney did 44 years ago, that the American people have the right to know how a presidential candidate earned his wealth, how and where he invests it, and whether he pays his fair share of taxes. So let's take a look at what we do know—and what big questions remain that Romney needs to answer.
We know that Romney owned a shell corporation registered in Bermuda for nearly 15 years. He transferred the mysterious corporation to a blind trust in his wife’s name one day before taking office as governor. He also left the shell corporation off seven different personal financial disclosure statements he was required to file under state and federal law since 2001. But we still don't know: Does the Romney family still own the Bermudan shell corporation? If so, why won't his campaign admit it? And did Romney transfer ownership the day before he was sworn in an attempt to avoid disclosure?
We know that Romney keeps millions of his income offshore in the Cayman Islands. He also had $3 million in a Swiss bank account, which was recently closed. As Vanity Fair reported, Romney’s finances are also “deeply entangled” with his former firm Bain Capital’s offshore investment funds. The question here is: What taxes would Romney have paid if his money were invested in the U.S. instead of offshore tax havens?
The answers to these questions matter—and the refusal to respond is telling. Krugman writes, "Unless he does reveal the truth about his investments, we can only assume that he's hiding something seriously damaging."
Release those tax returns, Gov. Romney. Because good or bad, the American people deserve to know.