Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is planning to disclose at least a decade of tax returns, another signal that he is laying the groundwork
for a 2016 bid for the presidency, according to Politico
, citing sources close to Bush.
The news comes just days after Bush announced the establishment of both a leadership political action committee and a super PAC
called "Right to Rise."
The move is believed to be an attempt to head off the pressure and criticism 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney faced for initially refusing to release any of his tax returns, then subsequently releasing just two years worth of records. The disclosure may enable Bush to avoid characterizations that plagued Romney as an out-of-touch member of the wealthy elite.
Politico also said that the decision to release his tax records could also be part of a political strategy to set up a contrast with presumed Democrat candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, with her husband, will have amassed wealth through the Clinton Foundation. Republicans are expected to push for disclosure not only of her personal finances but of the accounts of the organization, Politico said.
"It's smart and the main advantage is that Jeb gets to be in control of the release of this information rather than having that control dictated by his opponents and the media," Kevin Madden, a strategist at Hamilton Place Strategies who served as a top adviser and spokesman for Romney in 2012, told Politico.
"You also have more certainty around it by putting it out there and telling the story and then it is not new information coming out later."
No final plans have been made for the release of Bush's tax returns, Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told Politico, but people close to Bush noted that he previously released over 20 years worth of tax returns as a candidate and governor of Florida.
"People forget that he spent eight years as governor in a state with the most pro-transparency laws in the country," a source close to Bush told Politico. "He is used to living in the sunshine. Most of the other likely candidates aren't."
Last month, Bush made a separate significant move toward transparency when he released 250,000 official emails
from his tenure as governor from 1999-2007.
And in another sign that he is serious about making a bid, Bush resigned from all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including his own education foundation, The Washington Post reported
Democrats will likely pore over his financial dealings and accumulations since he left office, but his team says he has nothing to hide.
"There is no doubt that Jeb's business career will be heavily scrutinized in the coming months, as it should be," Jesse Lehrich, of the left-leaning American Bridge 21st Century, told Politico.
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