This tax return issue really baffles me:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, an issue of accountability and credibility. You have loaned your campaign $5 million. You and your husband file a joint return. You refuse to release that joint return, even though former President Clinton has had significant overseas business dealings.
Your chief supporter here in Ohio, Governor Strickland, made releasing his opponent’s tax return one of the primary issues of the campaign, saying repeatedly, “Accountability, transparency.” If he’s not releasing, his campaign said, his tax return, what is he hiding? We should question what’s going on.
Why won’t you release your tax return, so the voters of Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island know exactly where you and your husband got your money, who might be in part bankrolling your campaign?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, the American people who support me are bankrolling my campaign. That’s — that’s obvious. You can look and see the hundreds of thousands of contributions that I’ve gotten. And ever since I lent my campaign money, people have responded just so generously. I’m thrilled at so many people getting involved. And we’re raising, on average, about a million dollars a day on the Internet. And if anybody’s out there, wants to contribute, to be part of this campaign, just go to HillaryClinton.com, because that’s who’s funding my campaign.
And I will release my tax returns. I have consistently said that. And I will —
MR. RUSSERT: Why not now?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I will do it as others have done it: upon becoming the nominee, or even earlier, Tim, because I have been as open as I can be.
You have — the public has 20 years of records for me, and I have very extensive filings with the Senate where —
MR. RUSSERT: So, before next Tuesday’s primary?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I can’t get it together by then, but I will certainly work to get it together. I’m a little busy right now; I hardly have time to sleep. But I will certainly work toward releasing, and we will get that done and in the public domain.
She’s a little busy right now? As if she does her own taxes or something? What could really be going on here? It’s hard to imagine anything in the Clintons’ tax returns could be damaging enough to take the risk of looking so secretive and suspicious by refusing to release them. And if there is something damaging, then why would they want to wait until she’s the nominee to release it? That seems even riskier — imagine the fury that would come her way from Democrats if she wrapped up the nomination, then released tax returns that showed something really untoward?
My gut feeling is that there’s probably nothing particularly scandalous about the Clintons’ finances except that they’ve made a ton of money investing with Ron Burkle or other rich friends. If it’s anything worse than that, you would think they would have gotten the information out there early, so that it would be forgotten by the time the general election campaign came around. So what could really be going on here? Is there some fairly innocent yet slightly embarrassing explanation that would cause all this mystery and secrecy? Or is it just that they think the tax returns will be slightly scandalous, so they want to wrap up the nomination before releasing them, but they don’t think they’ll be scandalous enough to have an effect on the general election? Saying “I’ve been too busy to get around to it” is such a silly excuse that it naturally raises suspicions, but I’m perplexed at what the real explanation could be. Am I missing something obvious?