McCain releases tax returns -- at least, some of them

Unlike the Clintons and Obamas, the McCain campaign keeps spouse's tax records private.

By Steve Benen

Published April 18, 2008 6:10PM (EDT)

For all the talk in recent weeks about Hillary Clinton's initial reluctance to release her tax returns, John McCain's identical reluctance has gone largely ignored. The difference is that the media devoted considerable attention to Clinton's returns, and gave McCain a pass on his.

The good news is, McCain finally released his tax materials today. The bad news is, he's chosen to be less than forthcoming.

John McCain made nearly $420,000 in taxable and non-taxable income in 2007, according to the Arizona senator's tax returns just released by his presidential campaign.

McCain's 2007 income includes his approximately $162,000 Senate salary, over $176,000 in book royalties, $23,000 in Social Security income, and over $58,000 from his Navy pension.

The filing does not include his wife Cindy's much larger income -- the two have long filed separate tax returns.

Hmm. The Clintons released returns for both Bill and Hillary. The Obamas released returns for both Barack and Michelle. But Cindy McCain's tax materials will remain private.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess this has something to do with the fact that Mrs. McCain is very, very wealthy, with assets estimated at about $100 million, including a private jet the McCain campaign currently leases.

Someone might even be tempted to call the McCains "elites."

I'd just add that in 2004, the Republican National Committee spent quite a bit of time and energy demanding that the Kerry campaign release Teresa Heinz Kerry's tax returns.

The situation is comparable. John Kerry made less money than his wife, who inherited most of her fortune. The McCains are in a similar boat. In 2004, Teresa Heinz Kerry resisted calls for disclosure, just as Cindy McCain is now. Republicans insisted that all materials, relating to Kerry's income and his wife's, be publicly released, and the Kerrys ultimately agreed. Will Cindy do the same?

It's pretty simple: if we hold the McCains to the standards set by the Republican Party, today's disclosures by McCain are inadequate and incomplete.

Steve Benen

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