The mayors of seven prominent PA cities, including Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, have signed an open letter to Mitt Romney asking that he release more tax information.
Other signers include Mayors Pete Lagiovane of Chambersburg, Richard Gray of Lancaster, Helen Thomas of Darby Borough, Ed Pawlowski of Allentown, John Callahan of Bethlehem and Rick Vilello of Lockhaven. They were joined by fifteen other U.S. mayors.
A press conference was held Thursday afternoon by DNC Executive Director Patrick Gaspard, along with Mayor Nutter and Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, to discuss the letter – and why Romney’s lack of transparency matters to the middle class.
“Mitt Romney needs to be more transparent with his finances and his business dealings, which is why I was honored to be one of a number of mayors to sign an open letter, asking him to do just that,” said Nutter.
The authors of the letter wasted no time mincing words, and started their letter by telling the GOP nominee that “Transparency leads to trust…public release of your tax returns is the only way the American people can know if they can trust your judgment, perspective and motivations.”
Paragraph three packs the biggest punch, however, pointing out that Romney’s own father stressed that presidential nominees need to disclose more than a single year’s worth of tax returns. They point out that if Romney does not disclose more information, he will “go down as one of the most secretive presidential nominees in modern history,” making the suggestive observation that even Nixon allowed greater transparency. Ouch.
The authors also contrast Romney’s current hesitancy with his willingness in 2008 to disclose 23 years of tax returns to John McCain when he was vying to be his running mate.
During the press conference, Gaspard and the other speakers said Romney’s position shows an indifference to middle-class needs.
“When you’re running for the Presidency of the United States, the American people have a right to know what’s in your background and how that background might shape your economic philosophy,” Gaspard said. “President Obama’s philosophy is crystal clear: the President sticks up for the middle class, while Mitt Romney sticks it to them.”
RNC chair Reince Priebus, in a visit to Philadelphia earlier that day, said he sees the entire tax transparency debacle as a political ploy by the Obama camp to distract from more important issues.
“We’re not going to play footsie with President Obama and his delusional campaign,” said the Chairman, after asserting that no matter how many years of tax returns Romney released, it wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the current president.
As more and more public attention is directed at this issue, Romney is not the only GOP candidate being asked for transparency.
In a casual interview with reporters today, Senate hopeful Tom Smith was asked whether he would be willing to release past tax returns. Smith answered yes, though he did not say how many years he’d be willing to release.