Mitt Romneys contemptuous attitude toward the importance of public disclosure is increasingly troubling. Whether it involves the details of his personal finances or the identity of his big fundraisers, the presumptive Republican nominee is setting a new, low bar for transparency – one that does not augur well for how a Romney White House would conduct itself if he were elected.
First is the matter of tax returns. Romneys campaign, belatedly and under pressure, released a single years worth of tax information in January along with a summary for the 2011 return. Now, with a Friday afternoon release conveniently timed for minimum news coverage a week ago, it announced that the candidate had filed for an extension.
The campaign insisted that Romney was delaying because some of the companies in which he had invested had yet to report their earnings. This explanation would be a lot more palatable if Romney had demonstrated any inclination to live up to the standards of most previous presidential candidates.
Mitt Romney turned over more than two decades of returns when he was vetted as a possible vice presidential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. A few presidential candidates, including McCain, have been this stingy with their tax records, but the information is particularly relevant in Romneys case because of the size of his fortune and the low share of income he paid in taxes for the year that was released.
Then there is the mystery of Romneys bundlers. Candidates such as McCain, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, among others, voluntarily did the right thing and revealed the identity of these major fund-raisers. Romney, despite the undeniable importance of these individuals, has declined to follow that practice.
The candidates know full well to whom they are indebted. Perhaps Romney can explain why the public isnt entitled to the same information.