In last Thursday’s Republican debate in Houston, Texas, the tenth internecine combat day so far, Gov. John Kasich was on the end again. But that may have helped him escape having to answer the question posed to Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz regarding when they would release their tax returns.
In 2012, the issue of tax returns came to haunt Republican candidate Mitt Romney. He initially refused to release his tax returns but relented until his wife Ann said they wouldn’t release any more, because critics would just use them to raise more questions. This year, Romney said Trump should release his, and if he didn’t, it would be because there’s a “bombshell” hidden inside. Trump responded on stage, saying, “you don’t learn anything from a tax return.”
Stanford tax law professor Joseph Bankman said Trump’s wrong. “The phrase ‘you don’t learn anything’ is false. You learn a lot. You get great information about ‘true’ annual income, as most people would define the term. The tax return is the single most relevant document you could have,” he said, according to reports.
Gov. Kasich refused to release tax returns when he first ran for governor in 2010. He eventually relented, but only let reporters look for a limited time with limited resources to copy them. That one return showed he made over a million dollars including a massive bonus from his former employer Lehman Brothers the same year it helped collapse the U.S. economy.
Since then, Kasich has dismissed any call to release another tax return. But now that he’s in the final five of GOP presidential aspirants, and with others vowing to release theirs—and Marco Rubio did release his Saturday—Ohio’s autocratic leader will have some explaining to do about he won’t follow the crowd. He intimidated Ohio media on the subject, but he may not be able to do the same with National media.
Kasich’s spiel is his father was a mailman in a hard scrabble town, and that the former congressman and now governor is his own man, not beholding to anyone. Kasich likes to reflect on his humble roots, but he’s come a long way since then if the one tax return he released in 2010 and his federal filing as a candidate for president are accurate. John Kasich has indeed done quite well for himself, and his Federal Election Commission filing shows he could be worth as much as $22 million. Camp Kasich, it’s no secret, likes to keep secrets, and what can be found in his tax returns is certainly worthy of secret keeping.
Romney once said that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. For John Kasich, if he remains in the race as a viable candidate, not releasing one or more year’s worth of personal tax returns will certainly give media more reason to bear down on him.
What’s in his wallet? Inquiring minds want to know.
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