Mitt Romney disavowed any responsibility for investments in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, saying his personal finances are part of a “blind trust” that’s out of his control. Democrats have seized on reports on the holdings, about which little is known, to demand Romney release more of his tax returns and related material.
“I don’t manage them, I don’t even know where they are,” Romney told Radio Iowa Monday of his investment portfolio. “That trustee follows all U.S. laws, all taxes are paid as appropriate, all of them have been reported to the government. There’s nothing hidden there.”
Blind trusts are common among politicians. According to an Associated Press report, records show Romney transferred 12,000 shares in the Bermuda company to his wife’s blind trust the day before he was sworn in as governor in 2003, a transaction that was not publicly disclosed at the time.
Romney said his Caribbean holdings were no different in terms of taxes than investing in, say, a foreign car company.
“If, for instance, you own shares in Renault or Fiat, you still have to disclose that in the United States,” he said.
Romney did not indicate he plans to disclose more information, and accused Democrats of trying to distract from the economy.
“I understand the president’s going to try to do anything he can to divert attention from the fact that his jobs record is weak and he has no plan to make things better,” he said.
For the first time, President Obama on Monday personally joined Democrats in demanding Romney release his tax returns and clear up the nature of the companies in question.
“What’s important is if you are running for president is that the American people know who you are and what you’ve done and that you’re an open book,” Obama told a New Hampshire television station. “And that’s been true of every presidential candidate dating all the way back to Mitt Romney’s father.”
The late George Romney, former governor of Michigan, released a dozen years of tax returns ahead of his own presidential campaign, saying he wanted to dispel any doubts that he filed his taxes any differently in the year or two before his run.
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.