President Obama and his fellow Democrats have begun to raise a ruckus about Mitt Romney’s Swiss bank account and his multi-million-dollar holdings in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, all of which are known as tax havens. Romney’s mysterious $100 million tax-sheltered retirement account, which contains far more money than such accounts typically can accumulate, has also come under scrutiny.
In response, the Romney campaign has tried to suggest that its candidate’s extensive offshore holdings and other financial records are somehow off limits for discussion in a campaign to be president of the United States, although it has had a hard time explaining why that should be:
“The Obama campaign’s latest unfounded character assault on Mitt Romney is unseemly and disgusting,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said over the weekend, calling Obama “a typical politician willing to use false and dishonest attacks to save his job after failing to do his job.”
That’s not exactly a rebuttal or even a denial. However, if Saul is correct — if the attacks are indeed false and dishonest — then the American people have a right to know that President Obama is engaging in such tactics, so they can vote accordingly. Moreover, Romney possesses all of the unreleased tax returns and other financial information that would be needed to expose Obama’s attacks as “false and dishonest.”
Yet for some reason, Romney refuses to release that evidence. Every major presidential candidate in the past 36 years has followed the example set by Romney’s own father, George, in releasing financial information, but oddly, Romney has refused to follow suit.
That’s his choice, of course. He is free to do as he wishes, and others are equally free to draw whatever conclusions they wish about his behavior. But it’s frustrating to see a candidate who complains about “unseemly, disgusting, false and dishonest” attacks from his opponent, but who refuses to tell voters exactly why such attacks are unseemly, disgusting, false or dishonest.
Romney’s stance is also odd given that some 60 percent of employers now check the credit background of at least some job applicants, according to a survey by the Society of Human Resources Management. In fact, such checks have become part of doing due diligence, particularly when hiring for high-profile positions. And while what’s being asked of Romney is a little more extensive than a credit check, the job for which Romney is applying is a bit unusual as well.
Under federal law, a prospective employer can’t check an applicant’s credit background without getting the applicant’s permission. But as Romney no doubt knows given his experience in the business world, those job candidates who refuse to be open about their financial background are usually thought to have disqualified themselves from further consideration.
– Jay Bookman