Scott Brown announced Tuesday he will put out six years’ worth of tax releases, four more than Mitt Romney, who has been the subject of a pressure campaign by Democrats to release as many as 23 years’ worth of returns.
Brown’s move makes things especially awkward given what the men have in common: the same spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom. The longtime Romney aide earlier this month insisted that Romney’s tax disclosures were “sufficient.”
Brown, on the other hand, is not only releasing a six-year sample, he is actively challenging rival Elizabeth Warren — who has said she would release four years of returns — to follow his example.
“The tax years you are attempting to conceal contain important and potentially revealing information,” Brown campaign manager Jim Barnett said in a letter on Tuesday.
Fehrnstrom did not respond to an e-mail from TPM asking to clarify why the two campaigns had established different standards of transparency for tax records.
The connection between Brown and Romney has been awkward throughout the last couple of years as the two have run polar-opposite campaigns based on their differing environments. Brown, running in left-leaning Massachusetts against a populist liberal opponent, has tacked toward the center more than perhaps any other Republican senator. Romney, running until recently against conservative Republicans, has moved further and further to the right. As recently as this week, Brown proudly talked up his aisle-crossing vote for the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, for example, while Romney pledged to repeal it and labeled it an economic disaster in the same period.
“It never would have passed if it wasn’t for me,” Brown told MSNBC. “I was tired of having banks and Wall Street act like casinos with our money.”
As for Warren, spokeswoman Alethea Harney, suggested that four years of tax returns would do for now.
“Elizabeth Warren has been clear from the beginning that she would voluntarily release her tax returns and she is glad to see that Republican Sen. Scott Brown has finally agreed to do the same,” she said. “Elizabeth is not a career politician like Sen. Brown, but she will release her tax returns for her entire time in public service and by releasing four years of returns, she is providing the people of Massachusetts with a transparent and full accounting of her financial situation.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.