Republican anger was welling up on Wednesday after Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid claimed — without any supporting evidence — that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for 10 years.
Reid made the astonishing allegation in an interview with the left-leaning Huffington Post website, saying he had heard the information from an investor with Romney’s private equity company, Bain Capital.
But he did not reveal the name of his alleged source, so there was no way for anyone to check whether his accusation had any truth to it whatsoever.
Former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan was among the first to call Reid out, telling Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that Reid’s comments were “beneath the dignity of the office of the Senate majority leader.”
Van Susteren pointed out that Reid — an attorney — would know that such an anonymous allegation would never be allowed in court.
“The Democrats are trying to change the subject,” Buchanan responded. “They cannot win on Barack Obama's record. They know that. And so what you have to do is they have got to get material on Romney to damage him and make him utterly unacceptable.”
“That shows a measure of desperation.”
Even ABC News called Reid’s comments “wild speculation.”
However Reid’s allegation could have exactly the effect he had hoped as it puts further pressure on Romney to show more than just his 2010 tax returns — which he has already released — and those for 2011 which he has pledged will be made public before the election.
Romney paid a 14 percent effective income tax rate in 2010, paying $3 million in federal taxes on a $21.7 million income. He donated about $3 million to charity.
Also, the effort shows that Democrats are determined to push on Romney’s tax records. On Tuesday, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland argued that he could openly speculate as to whether Romney "is a tax avoider" or "cheat" because "his behavior invites such speculation," the Huffington Post reported.
Reid told the website that he received a phone call “about a month ago,” from a person who had invested with Bain.
"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," he claimed the person said.
Reid then admitted he had no idea about the veracity of the claim. “Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," he said. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?”
Then Reid said that based on the no-taxes allegation, Romney’s fortune was likely to be far higher than the $250 million that is regularly cited. “It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."
Reid even brought in Romney’s father George — who started the now-common practice of releasing multiple years of returns when he published 12 years worth during his 1968 run for the Republican White House nomination. “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son,” he said.
Romney’s campaign told the Huffington Post that the GOP candidate had “gone above and beyond the disclosure requirements by releasing two years of personal tax returns in addition to the hundreds of pages of financial disclosure documents he has provided to the Federal Elections Commission and made public.”
On Wednesday, Romney’s campaign directed Newsmax to a statement made by his spokeswoman Andrea Saul two weeks ago, in which she said it was “not true” that Romney had paid no taxes in any single year.
Meanwhile the Washington Post pointed out that it is not the first time that Reid has let his mouth get ahead of his brain, listing eight other examples. They included calling President George. W. Bush a “loser” and a “liar;” saying that Rep. Ted Kennedy’s cancer was in remission just four months before he died; calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment” and causing a slump in insurance company stocks after revealing that a member of his caucus had said one major company was on the verge of going bankrupt.
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