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August 26, 2012; Source: Parade Magazine
In an interview released by Parade Magazine yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed that a concern with releasing more of his financial information is that he is uncomfortable with revealing the amount of his contributions to the Mormon Church. Among modern presidential candidates, it is standard to release a significant amount of tax returns. President Barack Obama has released his last 12 tax returns, but Romney has only released his 2010 tax return, and even that return lacks some supporting documentation. As the Huffington Post noted, “Romney released his 2010 tax return in January of this year, a document that first informed voters about the existence of his Swiss bank account and financial activities in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But people who own foreign bank accounts are required to file a separate document with the IRS that provides additional details on such overseas bank holdings, and Romney has not released that form to the public.” Romney has pledged to release his 2011 tax return, but that remains a far cry for the modern presidential disclosure standard.
Speaking with Parade, Romney said that the Mormon Church “doesn’t publish how much people have given” and that “this is done entirely privately…One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended for our contributions to be known.” He added that those contributions are “a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”
That’s all well and good, but if you want to be president of the United States, you have to be willing to accept a higher degree of scrutiny than your standard charitable donor. We think most nonpartisan observers would agree that the public’s need to get a clear picture of a potential president (Swiss bank accounts and all) trumps the public interest in protecting donor anonymity. –Mike Keefe-Feldman