Presumably acting as a surrogate for her husband, Ann Romney is now announcing that no additional tax returns will be released to the public before the election.
Lately the stakes of Romney’s refusal to disclose have risen tremendously. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asserts that Romney has effectively paid no taxes over the past ten years. Leading private equity magnates have been unable to explain with any certainty how Romney could lawfully build his “magical IRA”, to a value of $21 million to $102 million.
Now, Romney has raised the stakes even higher. He has flatly declared that his personal tax rate each year over the the past decade was at least 13 percent. He has tried to redirect the campaign’s focus by naming Ryan, and hopes that declaring his own version of his tax record will put Democrats and advocates of disclosure on the defensive.
Maneuvering aside, however, the Republican Party and the American people have a right to know. Romney’s unverified statements about his taxes, his inexplicable accumulation of wealth in his IRA, and the sequestration of wealth in notorious tax havens outside the jurisdiction of the United States all raise ethical questions that transcend the minimum disclosure required by law. How can America elect a President who has not dispelled the lingering suspicion that he is a liar or engaged in highly questionable financial activities?
Here are four lessons from U.S. history — and Romney’s personal history — that show why he must release his tax returns.