Linda McMahon and Susan Bysiewicz won't release their tax returns

OK, Linda McMahon.

Mitt Romney did it.

Now it's your turn to release your tax returns.

It would be hard to say who is richer or makes more money, you or Mitt Romney, but it might be a close contest. It would also be interesting to know who pays a lower tax rate.

Romney, if he wins the nomination, will be at the head of the ticket here in Connecticut, as the Republican candidate for president, ahead of you, should you make it to the ballot again as the Republican candidate for U.S. senator.

Wouldn't it be embarrassing, in that event, if the very rich presidential candidate had deemed it appropriate to release his tax returns, if you, the very rich Senate candidate, did not?

So far, I gather, you don't see it that way.

I put the question about releasing tax returns to all the Senate candidates in Connecticut, in light of Romney's recent decision to accede to calls - many from within his own party - for personal tax transparency.

As a result, we learned that the wealthy Romney apparently pays a tax rate, less than 14 percent in 2010, that is lower than those of many typical taxpayers. And the release of returns brought to light some money Romney has parked in offshore investments.

Spokesmen for both McMahon and Susan Bysiewicz, a Democrat, responded, more or less, "no" to the question of whether they would release tax returns.

A Bysiewicz spokesman said there are "no plans to release Susan's tax forms right now" and that it is possible in the future but "unlikely." He noted that she has released her effective tax rate (23 percent) for 2009 and 2010.

When I put the question about releasing tax returns to the McMahon campaign, I got back an indirect "no" in an email from Erin Isaac, communications director for Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate 2012.

"As a candidate for the United States Senate, Linda has filed all of the required financial disclosures both in 2010 and this year," Isaac wrote back, referring to the broad financial disclosures candidates are required to make with the secretary of the Senate.

"I assume that is 'no' to the question of whether she will release her tax returns," I wrote back to Isaac.

I never heard back.

McMahon's Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, said he might release his tax returns.

"If all the candidates running for the United States Senate agree to release their tax returns, I certainly would do the same," Shays said in a statement made through a spokesman. "But I think the issue has no relevance in deciding who should be Connecticut's next U.S. senator."

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, running for the Democratic nomination, showed the most transparency. A Murphy spokesman essentially offered to send the returns over.

"Of course we would," said Kenny Curran, campaign manager for Team Murphy. "Any time you are a public servant, you have a higher degree of transparency for the people who vote for you. Chris has always believed that a high level of transparency applies to him and he would like to lead by example."

A spokesman for William Tong, another Democrat running for the Senate nomination, took my call and said he would get back to me. He never did.

Romney's returns became an issue this year in part because of his great wealth. And many of the same issues apply as prominently to Linda McMahon.

This year's elections will focus on how the country must begin to pay down its debt and start to balance its budgets again. Solutions ranging from higher taxes on wealthier Americans to cuts in defense spending and entitlement programs are all part of the debate.

Voters have a right to know whether those who want to craft the solutions are already paying their fair share of taxes.

This is the opinion of David Collins.



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