Transparency, Integrity, Leadership, and Mitt’s Taxes
That’s all very well, but unfortunately Romney has a peculiarly untrustworthy track record when it comes to making statements about what is really hidden on his tax returns. It turns out that when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, some of his opponents wondered aloud whether his family summer house in Cape Cod sufficiently qualified him for the state constitution’s seven-year residency requirement. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t, but they claimed they would be satisfied if he just posted his old tax returns for the previous seven years showing his stated residence, as if rich politicians only had one address.
Mitt refused to release his taxes, so, sensing blood, the sharks started circling. In an inspired attack, Mitt was asked if he would simply publish the opening part of his tax returns with everything but the residence redacted. Well, Mitt hemmed and hawed—I believe the technical terms are “dissembled and prevaricated”—and said “no” but his tax returns stated address was Massachusetts. Trust me.
And then he had all returns amended to show his addresses of record were Utah and Massachusetts. It turns out that his tax returns do not mean doodly squat for the purposes of satisfying Massachusetts’ residency requirements, so technically he broke no laws. But unless you think he was some sort of confused time traveler from the future after he had them amended then you have to assume he lied about it. And more importantly (yes, I am a cynic) he lied about it for two very bad reasons: 1) he did not want people to know he might not deserve what he was asking for, and 2) he assumed there was no difference between legal technicalities and ethics.
I doubt there is anything surprising in Mitt’s taxes. We should know by now that his accountants are experts in cutting-edge tax shelters and legally (maybe) creative accounting. The point is something his father understood many years ago when George Romney sr., (supposedly—I cannot finely source it) said, “Any politician who will not show multiple tear taxes may be hiding something.” George Romney released at least ten years of taxes when he ran for governor of Michigan because leaders do not perform the minimum duty required by law. And integrity is not a mask you put on when you stand for election.