On Friday, Mitt Romney announced that he was getting an extension on his 2011 tax return, and critics who have been calling for more extensive releases from past years were quick to pounce.
A Washington Post editorial on Monday titled "Mitt Romney's Secrets" criticized Romney's slowness on releasing tax returns and his unwillingness to name his bundlers, the influential individuals who collect donations from others, serving as middlemen for campaign funds.
As the Post notes, Obama has released a comprehensive list of his bundlers, but Romney has not done the same.
The Post referred to Romney's "contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure." The critics' overriding theme is that Romney, in his anxiety to assert his privacy, seems oblivious to the bad optics.
The problem extends beyond the refusal to release to the substance of what he has released, argued Allan Sloan, a Washington Post columnist. Sloan wrote that he was "shocked by how politically clueless" Romney's 2010 return seemed.
"Here were all sorts of games — obscure tax credits, a Swiss bank account — that were legitimate and above board, but didn’t save much money if any, and that looked and smelled bad to an average person," Sloan wrote, adding that Romney ought to have stopped taking complicated tax breaks well before his 2008 run for the White House.
"You’d think that somewhere along the way, someone would have explained to him that it was better to pay a few extra bucks to the IRS and clean up his return for public consumption by forgoing some deductions and credits, rather than having to explain a Swiss bank account and tacky-looking tax credits," Sloan added.
A Denver Post editorial on Thursday likewise objected to the delays and reluctance, noting that since Romney has effectively been running for president for six years, he should have at least that many carefully considered returns to release.
"For Romney to release only two years of returns would be laughable," the editorial said. "If that is the case, voters and opponents would not be out of line to ask the man who has essentially been running for president for the last six years what he's got to hide."
Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at [email protected].