From NBC's Mark Murray
This Friday, the Clinton and Obama campaigns have traded numerous charges -- over national security, NAFTA, expectations for March 4, and the delegate math.
The Obama camp now has added yet another topic to the discussion: Clinton's tax returns.
"Senator Clinton's refusal to make this very basic disclosure has raised a number of eyebrows among advocates for increased transparency," the Obama campaign says in a memo. "As her top Ohio supporter Governor Ted Strickland said in his 2006 campaign, if a candidate is not releasing his or her "tax return, what is he hiding? We should question what's going on."
Click below for the full memo...
To: Interested Parties
From: Obama Campaign
RE: Why Won't Hillary Clinton Release Her Tax Returns?
During a recent MSNBC debate, Senator Clinton was asked if she would release her tax returns. She answered, "Well, I will do it as others have done it, upon becoming the nominee or even earlier." But the very next day, her campaign backtracked, saying, "As is customary, as the Democratic nominee Sen. Clinton will release her tax information in April at tax time."
But waiting until April is not customary. In the 2004 Democratic primary, Governor Dean, Rep. Kucinich, Senator Lieberman, and Senator Edwards released their tax returns in April of 2003 – a full year earlier in the primary process. Senator Kerry released his tax returns in December of 2003, and General Clark released his tax returns in January of 2004.
Senator Clinton's refusal to make this very basic disclosure has raised a number of eyebrows among advocates for increased transparency. As her top Ohio supporter Governor Ted Strickland said in his 2006 campaign, if a candidate is not releasing his or her "tax return, what is he hiding? We should question what's going on."
Senator Clinton should explain why she believes voters in the upcoming primaries shouldn't have access to the same information as voters in the general election.
Senator Obama has made a practice of releasing his tax returns (the summary and the schedules), because he believes that after seven years of secrecy from the Bush Administration, we need increased transparency in our government. Allowing voters to evaluate this information is good for the process, but this is particularly true when a candidate decides to use his or her own personal fortunes to fund their campaign, which Senator Clinton did when she loaned her campaign $5 million.
Senator Clinton's refusal to release her tax returns is part of a pattern of secrecy that has imbued her campaign and raises questions about the sort of change she would be willing and able to bring to Washington.
Equally troubling is the fact that three years after Senator Clinton said all the record in the Clinton library would be available, less than 300,000 of the 78 million documents have been released.
In the debate, Senator Clinton tried to cast some of the blame on the White House for the delayed release of her records, saying, "Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible." But White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said that Clinton representatives have known since Jan. 31 that the documents – Senator Clinton's daily public schedule during her husband's presidency – have been deemed ready for public release by the National Archives. "To my knowledge, we have not been contacted by Mrs. Clinton or anyone else about moving more quickly with the review and release of Clinton material, specifically, her schedules."
Senator Clinton's misleading answers and refusal to release her taxes and her White House records speak to the fundamental choice facing voters in this election – more of the same Washington games or change the American people can believe in.