Sen. John McCain unexpectedly released part of his wife's 2006 tax return on Friday, showing that she reported income of $6.1 million through a combination of salary, dividends, capital gains and payments from trusts.
Cindy McCain, who controls one of the nation's largest beer wholesalers, has steadfastly refused to discuss her finances, saying she wants to protect her children's privacy. But late Friday, McCain's campaign office posted her two-page IRS Form 1040 on the Internet.
The campaign didn't release any of the supporting schedules, meaning that only the amounts and not the sources of her income are made public.
It shows that she took a salary of $299,418, apparently paid out by Hensley & Co., which she inherited from her father and which is said to be the third-largest Budweiser wholesaler in the nation.
She also earned $283,240 in ordinary dividends, $743,476 in capital gains and $4,551,901 in rentals, royalties, partnerships or trusts, which are most likely part of her vast network of investments. She paid federal income taxes of about $2 million and filed for a refund of $296,110.
McCain released his tax return last month, prompting critics to charge that the campaign was failing to disclose important information about the family's wealth, since the couple file separate returns. Cindy McCain's income dwarfs McCain's Senate salary, military disability pension and book royalties, which exceeded $400,000 in 2007.
The campaign put out the release Friday afternoon after holding the attention of the nation's new media on McCain's healthcare records. The twin disclosures were timed on the eve of a holiday weekend, apparently to disclose the news when public attention would be least focused on the campaign.
Asked about the timing of the tax records and McCain's medical records, Republican strategist Dan Schnur quipped:
"Christmas Eve would have been ideal, but that would have been a problem given the election calendar."
"If you have a lot of good news, you want to spread it out over a period of time so that each piece gets the information it deserves," said Schnur, who was the communications director for McCain's 2000 presidential run, but is neutral this year. "If you've got a lot of controversy -- you want to roll it out all at once. There's only so many column inches in the newspaper, there's only so many minutes on an evening newscast -- they can't spend 22 minutes talking about the McCain campaign, so you might as well empty the gutters."
Schnur said the release of the tax return probably would not make the issue go away, but it could make it less visible.