Election Watch: Pressure mounts for McCain to release tax returns

The McCain campaign's decision to withhold Cindy McCain's tax returns is drawing criticism from across the political spectrum. Editorials in both the Washington Post and Washington Times have echoed calls for the McCain campaign to release Cindy McCain's tax returns. This follows a column in yesterday's New York Observer that blasts McCain for his hypocrisy on disclosure, noting that Mrs. McCain's corporate jet "has been flying him and his entourage of lobbyists around the country at bargain rates."

Last week on the "Today Show," Cindy McCain said Senator and Mrs. McCain would never release her tax returns, not even if she becomes First Lady. This follows reports that John McCain's political career has routinely benefited from Cindy McCain's personal wealth and business ties and Senator McCain's own decision to release just two years of his own tax returns -- far less than any party nominee since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

"Unless John McCain's idea of being a different kind of Republican means disrespecting the voters by denying them the right to examine the links between his political career and the McCains' business ventures, he should immediately release Cindy McCain's tax returns," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. "How can John McCain expect the American people to trust him to lead our country if he is not even willing to apply the standards of openness and accountability he expects from everyone else to his own campaign?"

Washington Post on McCain Tax Disclosure: "IT WON'T DO." "For a candidate who puts a premium on transparency and ethics, John McCain has been slow and grudging in releasing tax information. He did not commit to doing so until after he had secured the nomination, and then he disclosed only two years of taxes, far less than his Democratic rivals. Mr. McCain's wife, the heir to a liquor and beer distributorship, declined to release her returns, citing -- as Ms. Heinz Kerry did -- her children's privacy. Releasing tax information entails intrusion, but, as we wrote four years ago, presidential candidates and their spouses 'relinquish a significant measure of privacy. Meanwhile, tax returns provide information not contained in financial disclosure forms, such as charitable contributions and the use of tax shelters.' For Mrs. McCain to say, as she did on NBC's 'Today' show this week, that she would never release her tax returns, not even if she were to become First Lady, is unacceptable. 'This is a privacy issue,' she said. 'My husband is the candidate.'" [Editorial, Washington Post, 5/14/08]

Washington Times Editorial: "Cindy McCain's 'privacy' charade." "Cindy McCain refuses to release her tax returns. This is not just a questionable political decision that threatens to haunt her husband's campaign for the next six months. It is also the wrong decision. Mrs. McCain needs to change her mind and release the returns as quickly as possible. How Republican John McCain, the presumptive presidential nominee who rightly fancies himself the king of transparency on Capitol Hill, and his campaign strategists can permit this open sore to fester is unimaginable. As the chairman of the Anheuser-Busch distributorship Hensley & Co., which her father founded, Mrs. McCain is an heiress whose income and assets will directly benefit from the tax policies espoused by her husband. Mr. McCain would also benefit. Taxpayers and voters are entitled to know how much these benefits will be." [Editorial, Washington Times, 5/14/08]

Washington Times: McCain Benefited from Cindy McCain's Wealth "During a Crucial Period of the Republican Nomination Contest." "Moreover, during a crucial period of the Republican nomination contest -- from last August (after Mr. McCain's campaign had collapsed financially) through February (when its remarkable political rebound effectively clinched the Republican nomination) -- Mrs. McCain used accoutrements of her wealth to keep her husband's campaign literally 'in the air,' traveling from one campaign stop to another. Many of those photos you saw of Mr. McCain carrying his own luggage through airports during that seven-month period were snapped after he disembarked from the corporate jet owned by the company headed by his wife." [Editorial, Washington Times, 5/14/08]

New York Observer Column: Show Us Your 1040, Mrs. McCain! "Now comes Mrs. McCain, whose case suspiciously resembles that of Mrs. Kerry. Although she and her straight-talking husband keep their finances separate for tax purposes, her company plane has been flying him and his entourage of lobbyists around the country at bargain rates, a particular boon during the many months when his campaign was out of cash. As for conflicts of interest, the patina of reform has long rubbed off of Senator McCain, whose penchant for using his office to assist donors with federal land swaps and other sweetheart deals should surprise no one paying close attention to his career." [New York Observer, 5/13/08]

This article was released by the Democratic National Committee.

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