Opinion: John McCain releases his tax returns -- but not hers*


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John McCain has just released details from his tax returns from 2006 and 2007, and possibly the most interesting tidbit is that he did not release his wife’s returns -- and McCain married into wealth. According to the campaign:

‘Since the beginning of their marriage, Senator McCain and Mrs. McCain have always maintained separate finances. As required by federal law and Senate rules, Mrs. McCain has released significant and extensive financial information through Senate and Presidential disclosure forms. In the interest of protecting the privacy of her children, Mrs. McCain will not be releasing her personal tax returns.’


Now you just know that’s going to kick up a little dust storm. The Obamas and Clintons have made their returns available, filing jointly. So expect some political fencing over that. It’s one thing to keep that kind of financial information in reserve when you’re running for a safe Senate seat. It’s another thing to not divulge your spouse’s potential financial conflicts -- or gains -- with policy decisions you would make as president.

As for the details, McCain took in about $321,000 in 2006 and about $420,000 last year. The big jump came in book royalties, though the oldest candidate in the field also received $23,000 from Social Security last year, up slightly from the year before. And he gets a Navy pension.

In 2006, McCain and his wife donated, from community assets, about $129,000 to charity and $211,000 last year. Most of that money, though, went to the John and Cindy McCain Family Foundation, which the campaign said in turn makes contributions.

*UPDATE: No surprise, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean is already teeing off on the issue, releasing this statement a little while ago:

‘John McCain’s lack of transparency is troubling and raises questions about what he’s hiding. From his willingness to skirt FEC law to releasing less information about his tax returns than any other candidate since Ronald Reagan, John McCain continues a troubling pattern of thinking the rules don’t apply to him. McCain should hold himself to the same standard set by past presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, and the example already set by both Democratic candidates.

‘In 2004, the Republican National Committee called on the Kerry campaign to release Teresa Heinz Kerry’s tax returns, saying ‘Americans value disclosure and transparency in campaigns.’ We expect the RNC will call on John McCain to release Cindy McCain’s records just as they called on the Kerry campaign to do so in 2004. The connection between the McCains’ business ventures and their political ties have been well documented and the American people deserve to know how McCain’s role as a public official may have benefited their bottom line.’


-- Scott Martelle