Business

Do Cindy McCain's Tax Returns Matter?

By  | 

Alan says no, but I say yes.

There’s no reason why the income of a candidate’s spouse shouldn’t be a matter of public record. Let’s face facts, just because spouses file separately doesn’t mean that they don’t jointly benefit from each other’s incomes. And I would have said the same about Bill Clinton if Hillary and him had filed separately.

But here’s a curious note…several right wing pundits decried Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s non-disclosure in 2004.

First, Robert Novak…

This becomes politically critical, because no previous presidential candidate relied so much on his spouse’s wealth. Without backing from Heinz ketchup money, it is fair to say John Kerry would not be his party’s presidential standard-bearer and probably would not even be a U.S. senator today. Thus, refusal to release his wife’s tax returns inevitably raises suspicions, however ill-founded, that the Kerrys have something to hide.

Then, National Review:

Trusts and income this large, even if only partly controlled by a potential future First Lady, matter. We’ve already seen how Teresa effectively helped finance her husband’s campaign, at least in its bleaker moments. How her money is generated is, therefore, of some interest as is its potential, particularly in the context of a campaign that has made so much out of “Halliburton,” for conflicts (or the perception of conflicts) of interest.

Even the Wash Post editorial board weighed in:

“IT WON’T DO.” That was our bottom line in 1984 when Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, balked at releasing her husband’s income tax returns. “Though Rep. Ferraro says she will release her own tax return, she cannot treat her spouse as a separate entity for this purpose and still claim to be providing complete data,” we wrote. Ms. Ferraro eventually relented, providing five years’ worth of tax returns from her husband, John Zaccaro.

Twenty years later, in the midst of a similar controversy, we feel much the same way. Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the putative Democratic presidential nominee, should make her tax returns public. Ms. Heinz Kerry has been reluctant to do so; campaign spokesman Michael Meehan now says she is preparing to make summary information available, though not necessarily her return itself. That’s an improvement over no disclosure, but it is short of what ought to be done.

So, where are the calls for Cindy McCain from the right wing?

Don’t hold your breath.

(h/t: Nitpicker)

  • Dos

    Of course there is a difference, the difference being that John Kerry was/is a disgusting liberal communist and John McCain is not and so we really don’t need to be nearly as suspicious of his wife or her income.

    Now, on to the real issue posed to me by a friend in Denmark:

    “We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election. On one side, you have a bitch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer, and a lawyer who is married to a bitch who is a lawyer.

    On the other side, you have a true war hero married to a woman with a huge bosom who owns a beer distributorship.

    Is there a contest here?”

    Exactly my friend, exactly.

  • Nelson

    The candidates that released their spouse’s returns lost.

  • J.A.S.

    If Mrs. McCain is writing checks to the campaign, then go ahead and look at her returns. If she is not, then her returns are none of your business, nor mine, nor anyone else’s. She is not the candidate. If spouses of candidates should be required to open their financial records, then why not political reporters? Let’s see what is going in and out of their accounts. How about political bloggers? I think we should have the right to sift through your financial records if you are going to engage in partisan activity—if we are going to apply that standard to Mrs. McCain, that is. I could go for looking through Instapundit’s bank records. Or Andrew Sullivan’s. Or Greenwald’s. Or Arianna Huffington’s.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner

    First, read this post, “All Of McCain’s Investments Are In His Wife’s Name?

    If you read it, you’ll know that the point is that she IS “writing checks” to the campaign because McCain invests under his wife’s name and that finances his lifestyle, as well as “her” jet he uses to travel across the country, etc.

    As far as looking at my tax returns, heh, I really have nothing to hide, and if Cindy will make hers public, I’d GLADLY make min public too. Something tells me that’s not going to happen. What’s more, the two aren’t anywhere close to being comparable. But let’s go down that rabbit hole for a moment…you going to go looking in journalists’ tax returns because they cover a campaign? Seems like a very dangerous, slippery slope.

    The point remains that the McCains aren’t being transparent if they want us to believe that their finances are separate just because they file separately. That’s the point I made in the linked post and its one I’ll continue to make until “their” tax returns are released…because after 28 years of marriage, there’s no way John hasn’t shared in the Cindy’s bounty.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner

    Of course there is a difference, the difference being that John Kerry was/is a disgusting liberal communist and John McCain is not and so we really don’t need to be nearly as suspicious of his wife or her income.

    Haha, well put.

  • atp2007

    For at least 25 years of my federal and state service I had to submit financial disclosure statements just so there would be no question as to my being economically biased in matters I decided. I see no reason why the McCains or any other candidate have to disclose tax return figures. I have no need to know how much they have, I just need to know what are their sources of income, what are their debts. I only need to know they have shares in Gulf Oil, TNT Nuclear, etc. …or owe Joe Blow money so I can tell whether the candidate or the candidate’s spouse have an economic interest in the candidates decisions and positions.

  • http://stubbornfacts.us/ Tully

    “There’s no reason why the income of spouses of a candidate shouldn’t be a matter of public record.”

    Since you phrase it as “a matter of public record,” implying mandatory disclosure, let me point out that there certainly IS such a reason. It’s called “privacy,” and it’s considered a constitutional right. Candidates disclose their tax returns on a purely voluntarily basis–you seem to think are forced to by law, and want that to apply to their spouses as well. Such a law would be ruled unconstitutional in VERY short order. Their spouses aren’t running for office. The specific details really aren’t any of our business.

    Summary financial disclosure by the candidates themselves on the other hand, as atp2007 notes, IS appropriate. And required. That’s not remotely the same as making tax returns a matter of public record.

  • djthedj

    Thank you Dos for the best possible example of just how America got into the position where lying scum can rob the treasury blind while morons wave flags and sing their praises as heroes.