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Harry Reid & Nancy Pelosi - Transparency for others but not for us!


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You don't have to be a democrat to be a hypocrite but you have to be a hypocrite to be a democrat.

Most members of Congress keep their tax returns secret


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks Mitt Romney should release his tax returns, but won't provide hers. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Rep. Nancy Pelosi was emphatic. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal tax returns, she said, makes him unfit to win confirmation as a member of the president’s Cabinet, let alone to hold the high office himself.

Sen. Harry Reid went farther: Romney’s refusal to make public more of his tax records makes him unfit to be a dogcatcher.

They do not, however, think that standard of transparency should apply to them. The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records. Just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities in response to requests from McClatchy over the last three months. Another 19 replied that they wouldn’t release the information, and the remainder never responded to the query.

The widespread secrecy in one branch of the government suggests a self-imposed double standard. Yet while American politics has come to expect candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns, the president isn’t alone in having a say over the nation’s tax laws. Congress also stands to gain or lose by the very tax policies it enacts, and tax records – more than any broad financial disclosure rules now in place – offer the chance to see whether the leaders of the government stand to benefit from their own actions.

“Senior public officials, especially members of Congress and presidential candidates, should be required to disclose their tax returns so that the public can monitor potential conflicts of interest,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

The question of taxes is particularly pressing this year, as Congress debates whether to extend all or some of the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire Dec. 31. At the same time, tax returns reveal assets and investments.

Absent tax information, members of Congress aren’t fully transparent, said Daniel Auble, who heads the personal finance project for the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks financial disclosures by members of Congress and appointees confirmed by Congress.

“Having a clearer picture of lawmakers’ interests . . . is definitely important in making available to the public what possible influence there could be,” he said. “In terms of transparency, it would be helpful to have more information.”

Among those who did disclose their tax returns: Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and a co-author of the Dodd-Frank law tightening regulations on Wall Street.

To Pelosi and some other top Democrats, the focus is on Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, who’s released his 2010 return and 2011 estimates and plans to release his 2011 return when it’s completed, but refuses to release any more. They say the very refusal to release more suggests that he’s hiding something.

"He could not even become a Cabinet member for that lack of disclosure, and now with that lack of disclosure he wants to be president of the United States,” said Pelosi, the House minority leader, who’s from California.

“We’d like to know what’s in those tax returns that he refuses to show to the American public. Did he pay any taxes?” Reid asked in an impassioned speech to the Senate on July 11. Days later, Reid, who’s from Nevada, suggested that Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns would make him ineligible to serve even as dogcatcher.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, also has harangued Romney for refusing to release more tax returns, calling it a “penchant for secrecy.”

All three refused repeated requests from McClatchy to release their own returns, requests that started before the flap over Romney’s records.

Pelosi aides refused, saying she’s disclosed all that Congress requires.

“The leader has filed a complete financial disclosure report as required by law that includes financial holdings, transactions and other personal information,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said. “There has been no question about where Leader Pelosi and Democrats stand on tax policy: We must extend the middle-class tax cuts and end tax breaks for millionaires and use the revenues to pay down the deficit.”

Challenged at a recent news conference to release hers, Wasserman Schultz said she wouldn’t because she wasn’t running for president. “I file full financial disclosure required under the law,” she said.

What’s required by law is written by Congress itself, a broad financial-disclosure statement that offers no direct information on tax liabilities and no requirement for reporting spousal income other than the source – but not the amount – of any income above $1,000. There’s little way of knowing whether that spousal income is $1,001 or $1 million.

Several members of Congress married into money or have wealthy spouses. Topping that list are Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, whose wife, Linda, is an heiress to the Clear Channel Communications fortune, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., whose wife, Teresa, is the heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune. Pelosi’s husband, Paul, heads Financial Leasing Services Inc., a San Francisco-based venture capital and real estate firm.

When it comes to the valuation of investments or reporting of income on the annual disclosure forms, what’s required are broad numbers such as between $250,000 and $500,000 or $1 million and $5 million. That makes it hard to determine how much benefit a lawmaker might get from competing tax plans.

“They just don’t provide the same level of detail as a tax return,” said Darrell West, a specialist on governing and a vice president of the Brookings Institution, a center-left research center in Washington.

Most members won’t release that kind of detail.

Only 17 members shared their detailed tax information with McClatchy. Another 19 refused, but the majority of them stressed that they comply with congressional disclosure requirements.

Of the lawmakers who shared their tax returns, most got large deductions for interest on personal and investment real estate. That’s useful information for taxpayers, since a revamp of the tax code is expected in the next few years.

McClatchy isn’t releasing the tax returns under the terms of the agreement with the lawmakers. Reporters requested the returns to examine in detail how members would be personally affected by changes in tax laws being debated in Congress including income tax rates, as well as taxes on capital gains and dividends and deductions for such expenses as home mortgage interest. In exchange for sharing their returns, members were told their actual returns would not be made public.

Most lawmakers, however, chose to keep their tax liabilities a secret.

“First your publishers and editors and execs should publish their tax returns. They have great influence over public policy,” Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., said in an emailed response. Ackerman, who was dogged in 2010 by allegations of a sweetheart stock purchase, isn’t seeking re-election, so his term ends in January.

“Are you guys asking the president to turn over his college records? Or asking him to turn anything over of any kind?” responded Allen Klump, the communications director for Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.

“Thanks, but we will not give you Sen. Rockefeller’s tax return. Good luck on the project,” said Vincent Morris, a spokesman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., whose family surname is synonymous with wealth.

Several lawmakers said they’d disclose what’s required and no more.

Rep. Renee Ellmers “files a financial disclosure form each year in accordance with House ethics rules and this is publicly available,” said Tom Doheny, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican.

Rep. Joe Wilson “has submitted a financial disclosure form, which is required by law and available to constituents as a matter of public record,” said Caroline Delleney, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Republican.

Constituents generally know where their particular lawmakers stand on the issue of the expiring tax cuts because the two major political parties have well-defined views. But there’s more at stake than just tax brackets, and voters often have little feel for whether their members of Congress would benefit or be harmed by changes that are under consideration.

From the financial disclosure forms, constituents can, with some work, surmise how lawmakers’ investment income might be taxed under competing plans. Given their salaries, lawmakers would fall into the higher tax bracket for dividends, but it’s unclear where they’d fall individually on the income scale.

“There are clearly some people above (the $250,000 threshold). There’s a bunch of people who might or might not be affected, and you can’t tell,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, which is run by the Brookings Institution and the centrist Urban Institute.

Tax data isn’t always a panacea, however.

Missouri Democrat McCaskill was one of the few senators who provided McClatchy with a tax return. Her 1040 form lists her as married filing separately, showing an adjusted gross income of $193,384.

But her husband, Joe Shepard, is a wealthy businessman whose investments sometimes have put her in an unpleasant spotlight. His investment in a reinsurance company in Bermuda – the same country in which a Romney investment has been criticized by Democrats – brought allegations from Republicans in 2009 of tax dodging. Shepard no longer hold the investment.

McCaskill does report dozens of her husband's investments in her annual financial disclosure statement, with more detail than required. But each still is listed only under ranges of values, not precise amounts.

That’s another reason advocacy groups think that financial-disclosure reporting should be expanded to capture spousal income more fully, and argue that tax data would be a useful, albeit imperfect, tool.

“As public officials, potential conflicts of interest caused by their wealth and assets are a public concern,” said Holman, the Public Citizen lobbyist.

Email: khall@mcclatchydc.com, dlightman@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @KevinGHall, @LightmanDavid


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The Democratic mind has no problem with this hypocrisy. Their logic is do as I say not what I do. It helps me not despise them by laughing so hard. Of course Republicans get brain farts every now and then too. If they had run any kind of inteligent candidate against Reid he wouldn't even be in the Senate any more.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz hasn't released her tax returns either.

DNC Chief Urges Romney to Release Tax Returns, but Won't Release Her Own

By Daniel Halper, The Weekly Standard

July 9, 2012 3:02 PM

The Democratic National Committee chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is in Boston today to hold an event to urge Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.

"Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will join Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh to discuss former Governor Mitt Romney’s history of fighting transparency amid new reports that the Republican presidential candidate has secret bank accounts in foreign tax havens," a Democratic National Committee press release states.

The goal for Wasserman Schultz is clear: To get Romney to release tax returns and other financial documents.

But the irony of today's event is rich: Debbie Wasserman Schultz has refused--and continues to refuse--to release her own tax returns.

In April, around Tax Day, Wasserman Schultz's Republican congressional opponent, Karen Harrington of Florida, requested the DNC chair release her tax returns. “This week millions of taxpaying Americans will fulfill their requirement of filing their tax returns by paying any and all taxes due to the federal government,” Harrington’s campaign said in a statement. “Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been asking Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his 2011 tax return even after Governor Romney released his 2010 tax return.”


House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), have been some of the most vocal voices to have called on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.

In stunning examples of hypocrisy, though, Pelosi, Reid, and Wasserman-Schultz all refused to release their tax returns when asked by McClatchy Newspapers.

“The leader has filed a complete financial disclosure report as required by law that includes financial holdings, transactions and other personal information,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami told McClatchy.

At a news conference, Wasserman Shultz said, “I file full financial disclosure required under the law” and refused to release her tax returns.

Reid also would not let McClatchy look at his tax returns.

In recent weeks, Pelosi has said Romney’s failure to release his tax returns makes him unfit to even be a Cabinet member while Reid said it made Romney unfit to be even a dogcatcher.

Wasserman Schultz said Romney’s refusal to release his returns was an example of Romney’s “penchant for secrecy.”

But, as McClatchy reports, “all three refused repeated requests from McClatchy to release their own returns, requests that started before the flap over Romney’s records.”

By Reid’s, Pelosi’s, and Wasserman Schultz’s standards, they should not be serving in office.


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Heck, Secretary of the Treasury Geitner hadn't even filed taxes for awhile before he was nominated by Obama for the post.

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Heck, Secretary of the Treasury Geitner hadn't even filed taxes for awhile before he was nominated by Obama for the post.

Yeah and Tim is still there.

Tom Daschle wasn't so lucky.

February 3, 1:05PM ET:

WASHINGTON -- Tom Daschle withdrew Tuesday as President Barack Obama's nominee to be health and human services secretary, dealing potential blows to both speedy health care reform and Obama's hopes for a smooth start in the White House.

"Now we must move forward," Obama said in a written statement accepting "with sadness and regret" Daschle's request to be removed from consideration. A day earlier, Obama had said he "absolutely" stood by Daschle in the face of problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.


It seems like there were a couple of others as well.

Labor secretary nominee Hilda Solis had to pay around $6,400 to settle numerous tax liens dating to 1993.

Nancy Killefer, withdrew as a nominee because she had a $947 tax lien filed against her in Washington four years ago for not paying unemployment compensation taxes for a household employee.


First there was Timothy Geithner, who as treasury secretary now oversees the collection of taxes, but failed to pay $34,000 he owed until the offer of a cabinet job materialized. Then there was Tom Daschle, nominated for secretary of health and human services, even though he neglected to pay $128,000 in taxes until he was selected. And then there was Nancy Killefer, chosen to be the White House chief performance officer, who once had a $900 lien placed on her house for failing to pay unemployment taxes on household help.

Geithner managed to win confirmation anyway; Killefer and then Daschle withdrew their nominations this week. Either way, the three cases, on top of the tax troubles of Representative Charlie Rangel of New York, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, provide ammunition for the opposition.


Kathleen Sebelius

Add Ronald Kirk, former Dallas mayor and President Obama's U.S. Trade Representative nominee, to the long and growing list of administration nominees and officials with tax problems.


"It is easy for the other side to advocate for higher taxes," Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, told a party retreat last weekend, "because you know what? They don't pay them."

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Harry Reid not backing down from Romney tax claim

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly is not backing down from his assertion that Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reportsReid said the controversy could end if Romney revealed more of his tax information.

Asked again whether he'd reveal the source of his information, the Nevada Democrat said "I've answered your question," according to the Las Vegas newspaper.

Romney has repeatedly said Reid's claim, based on a "credible source" who is an investor in Bain Capital, is untrue and that he has paid his taxes. The flap escalated this weekend with a round of name calling on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a "dirty liar" on Sunday, and Reid aide David Kronetold Politico that such Romney supporters are "henchmen" and "cowards" for their attacks on the Senate majority leader.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, which sometimes has been critical of Romney, slams Reid in a column today urging the majority leader to "stay classy." Although the editorial says Romney could resolve the issue by releasing more tax documents, it chastises Reid's tactics.

"But without any proof, Mr. Reid's accusations are a smear from the fever swamps that say more about Mr. Reid's ethics than they do about Mr. Romney's taxes," the WSJ editorial says.

President Obama and his Democratic allies have frequently criticized Romney's wealth and his refusal to release more tax information. Romney has posted on his website his 2010 tax return and an estimate of what he paid in 2011, and says he'll release the return for the last tax year when it is ready.

With a net worth of $190 million to $250 million, Romney is one of the wealthiest men running for president in a couple of decades. Sometimes, his own comments -- such as those about his wife owning two Cadillacs or his friendship with NFL and NASCAR team owners -- have left Romney open to criticism that he's out of touch with the average American.

Still, it's unclear whether Reid's charges will hurt the Democrat back home. He survived a stiff re-election challenge and defeated Republican Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite, by 6 percentage points in 2010. Reid, an amateur boxer in his youth, isn't up for re-election again until 2016.

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