Mitt Romney tried to deflect continued demands that he release more tax returns onto a peculiar target Monday: Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry.
On Sunday, senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie claimed that Romney need only release two years of tax returns, in line with the precedent set by former presidential nominees John McCain and John Kerry. “It’s the standard that Sen. John Kerry as the Democratic nominee said was the standard,” Gillespie said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
But Kerry actually released 20 years of returns when he challenged President George W. Bush in 2004.
“John Kerry ran for president,” Mitt Romney said Monday morning on “Fox & Friends.” “You know, his wife, who has hundreds of millions of dollars, she never released her tax returns. Somehow, this wasn’t an issue.”
Heinz Kerry, an heiress to the Heinz food fortune, was pressured during Kerry’s presidential run to release tax returns, which she files separately from her husband. She ultimately released a portion of her 2003 returns in October 2004, after an initial estimate in May of the same year.
The claim about Kerry was debunked three months ago. “Months ago, the Romney team began making this false and convoluted excuse — the media investigated it and promptly reminded them that as a presidential candidate John Kerry had released 20 years of tax returns,” Kerry spokesperson Jodi Seth told TPM in a statement. “Still, months later they’re falling back on this same disproven excuse. In fact, if the Romney standard was the same as the Kerry standard for disclosure, the media would have the chance to review 20 years of Romney tax returns. Ed Gillespie should know better.”
“The Obama people keep on wanting more and more and more,” Romney said Monday, noting that he had already released more than is required by law. “More things to pick through, more things for their opposition research to try to make a mountain out of, and to distort, and to be dishonest about.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.