PHILADELPHIA, PA.--On the day income taxes are due, the Clinton campaign is calling out Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for only releasing tax returns from 2000 on. There has been a lot of back and forth on this during the campaign--at one point the Obama team was pressuring the Clintons to release the returns for the years after they left the White House. They did, and they revealed the couple hauled in $109 million. But Obama has never released the returns from his entire public life--from his years as a state senator from Illinois.
To: Interested Parties
From: The Clinton Campaign
Date: April 15, 2008
RE: Tax Day Test: Is Sen. Obama As Transparent As He Claims?
For all of Sen. Obama's rhetoric about the need for tax return transparency, you'd think he'd have released all of his tax records. Guess again.
For weeks, Sen. Obama and his campaign relentlessly demanded that Hillary release all of her tax returns even though 20-years of them were already publicly available. His campaign held an endless string of conference calls, issued press releases and flooded the airwaves with surrogates attacking Hillary for not immediately releasing the returns for the last few years she has been in public life.
Sen. Obama said the American people "deserve to know where you get your income from," stressing the need for "full transparency" and bragging that his campaign has "set the bar."
Well, Hillary released tax returns earlier this month and is now the only candidate in this race who has made thirty years worth of tax returns public.
But despite his rhetoric, Sen. Obama doesn't abide by the standards he sets for others.
Sen. Obama has refused to release his tax returns for 1997, 1998 and 1999, even though he was in public life as a state senator during those years. During this period of time, Sen. Obama was accepting contributions from special interest lobbyists, PACs and even directly from corporations.
In fact, Sen. Obama has a habit of demanding higher standards of transparency for others than for himself. The National Archives has released hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Hillary's years as first lady, including her entire schedule. Throughout the campaign, Sen. Obama has demanded Hillary release more documents, even though they are not under her control. Meanwhile, Sen. Obama refuses to release any documents that are more than three years old. At first, Sen. Obama and his campaign told the press that he had records from his state senate years. Later, he said he threw them all out.
Whether it's tax returns or legislative records or his relationship with indicted political fixer Tony Rezko, Senator Obama seems to take "the dog ate my homework" approach to disclosure.
When it comes to transparency, the only thing transparent about Senator Obama is his claim to be transparent.