Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) shared something interesting in an interview with the Huffington Post yesterday: an investor in Bain told Reid that W. Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over a ten year period.
Whatever the level of exaggeration from the Senator or his source, there is probably at least some level of truth to the statement. Unfortunately, Romney is stonewalling the American public by not releasing his records so we’ll never know the truth.
But the source coming to Harry Reid for these revelations adds a level of intrigue. Reid just happens to be the highest-ranking member of the Mormon Church in the history of this nation.
It is likely that Senator Reid's source shares the Mormon religion with Reid and Romney.
That message will not be lost on Romney. If the Bain fortress is not a fortress; if people are talking, Romney knows that trouble lies ahead.
And the motivation for this leak may not be political. It is likely personal and tied to the Mormon Church.
Specifically, if Romney was hiding money from the IRS he may have hidden money from his church.
It is expected that members of the Mormon Church tithe a minimum of ten percent of their incomes. But if Romney was not paying taxes and hiding money, then his disclosure – which itemizes deductions, including to the church – would tip off his actual income to the IRS.
Even more telling, Senator Reid specifically says that Romney's father, George, would be ashamed of his son.
It is true that Mitt’s father, who set the precedent of releasing multiple years, would be ashamed of the son’s lack of disclosure.
Another reason for such a strong statement from Reid is that Mitt’s father would be ashamed for religious reasons.
This is something I have speculated about in this space in the past: a large part of Romney's reluctance to release his records may be based on his relationship with his Mormon Church.
Some have speculated that Romney's donations to the church might be a problem with the American public. Perhaps it is Romney's shortchanging of his church that is Mr. Romney's concern.
Perhaps there is a major story in the works on Romney's IRS audits.
The revelation from Romney could be an attempt to "prebut" the story before it comes out, or soften the blow.
Team Romney has used this tactic in the past. It was only after the Washington Post ran its story on Romney's history of bullying that it became clear that Ann Romney's out of nowhere statement that Mitt was a "prankster" was an attempt to soften the blow of that story.
If reporters are working on stories about Romney being audited then he knows it and his staff knows it.
Perhaps, looking back, we will see that Romney's disastrous trip was, in part, the reflection of a campaign reeling from a much bigger hit to come. Perhaps the stress of the audit and release questions are taking a toll on Team Romney's communications shop. That would partially explain why a staff member told reports to "shove it" and "kiss my ass" during the trip.
Whatever becomes of this story, Romney has opened himself up to endless speculation. Whatever is in those records must be devastating because he continues to allow the speculation around his returns to be a dominating cloud over his campaign.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.
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