Former Colorado GOP Chair: “Romney should release more tax returns”

DENVER — A majority of Americans, but by no means an overwhelming one, want GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns.

And former Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams is among them.

“I think it would be better if Gov. Romney released more years,” Wadhams told FOX31 Denver on Thursday. “I personally do not think there’s anything in his returns that would be any bigger of a problem than the returns he’s already released showing that he’s a very successful businessman.”

Americans want Romney to release his returns by a 17 point margin, 54-37, according to the survey from Gallup and USA Today. And 53 percent of independents say he should release them.

But the same poll also finds that a plurality doesn’t plan on basing its vote on the issue of tax returns at all, with 47 percent of respondents calling the tax return disclosure issue “largely irrelevant, while 43 percent say it offers “legitimate information that helps voters make better decisions.”

This week, the Romney campaign has successfully used President Obama’s comment last Friday, that “If you have a business, you didn’t build that”, to shift the campaign’s narrative away from Romney’s work in the private sector and onto the sluggish economy and, in the Romney camp’s view, the president’s personal “disdain” for entrepreneurship and free market principles.

“It wasn’t a gaffe,” Romney said Thursday, referring to Obama’s remark. “It was instead his ideology.”

On Thursday, Romney’s campaign hastily added a public event to Romney’s schedule so the candidate could appear at a truck repair shop near his Boston headquarters with a business owner, both taking umbrage with the notion that the owner didn’t build that business on his own.

Later Thursday, CBS News reported the shop owner, Brian Maloney, acknowledged that his business received help from the government.

“The only way I was able to come here, because I had no money, was with an industrial revenue bond,” Maloney said in an interview with Boston’s WBZ-TV.

Industrial revenue bonds are typically issued by local and state governments to attract new business to an area. They create low-interest loans for new development and startups.

Meanwhile, with President Obama campaigning in Florida, his team sought to keep the pressure on Romney to release more of his tax returns.

In Colorado, Obama surrogates conducted a conference call, reminding reporters of all the Republicans who have released their tax returns, including former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, former U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, along with GOP candidates like Pete Coors, Ken Buck, Jane Norton and Dan Maes.

On Wednesday, FOX31 Denver was first to report that former GOP Congressman Bob Beauprez, a top Romney surrogate in Colorado now defending Romney’s decision not to release more of his tax returns, had called for his 2006 opponent Marc Holzman to release his tax returns during a gubernatorial GOP primary.

Wadhams was also listed on the Obama campaign email because in 2002, as Sen. Wayne Allard’s campaign manager, he too called for Democrat Tom Strickland to release his tax returns.

On Thursday, Wadhams told FOX31 Denver he still believes that candidates should release their tax returns — including Romney.

“I think it’s better for more disclosure than less disclosure, although I really don’t think this election is going to turn on tax returns,” Wadhams said.

Wadhams also said that if Romney is more transparent on his tax returns, he’d be better able to demand transparency from Obama on other issues.

“I just think what he should do is release more years and demand that the Obama administration be more transparent,” Wadhams continued. “President Obama has invoked executive privilege on the ‘Fast and Furious’ issue of selling guns to drug dealers in Mexico.

“Ironically, the Obama administration is all for transparency, except when it comes to its own policies. There’s a lot we don’t know about Obama’s college record too. They value transparency only when it applies to Mitt Romney’s tax returns. The hypocrisy is pretty breathtaking.

“Transparency should work both ways.”

In 2010, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper released parts of his tax returns for 22 of the past 23 years, withholding some information to protect the privacy of friends and family with whom he’d done business deals with over the years.

On Thursday, FOX31 Denver asked Hickenlooper for his thoughts on the debate over Romney’s tax returns, but his spokesman Eric Brown said the governor, who thus far has shied away from getting involved in the hyper-partisan back-and-forth of the presidential contest, would not be available for comment.