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Do Cindy McCain’s Tax Returns Matter?

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Alan says no, but I say yes.

There’s no reason why the income of a candidate’s spouse shouldn’t be a matter of public record. Let’s face facts, just because spouses file separately doesn’t mean that they don’t jointly benefit from each other’s incomes. And I would have said the same about Bill Clinton if Hillary and him had filed separately.

But here’s a curious note…several right wing pundits decried Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s non-disclosure in 2004.

First, Robert Novak…

This becomes politically critical, because no previous presidential candidate relied so much on his spouse’s wealth. Without backing from Heinz ketchup money, it is fair to say John Kerry would not be his party’s presidential standard-bearer and probably would not even be a U.S. senator today. Thus, refusal to release his wife’s tax returns inevitably raises suspicions, however ill-founded, that the Kerrys have something to hide.

Then, National Review:

Trusts and income this large, even if only partly controlled by a potential future First Lady, matter. We’ve already seen how Teresa effectively helped finance her husband’s campaign, at least in its bleaker moments. How her money is generated is, therefore, of some interest as is its potential, particularly in the context of a campaign that has made so much out of “Halliburton,” for conflicts (or the perception of conflicts) of interest.

Even the Wash Post editorial board weighed in:

“IT WON’T DO.” That was our bottom line in 1984 when Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, balked at releasing her husband’s income tax returns. “Though Rep. Ferraro says she will release her own tax return, she cannot treat her spouse as a separate entity for this purpose and still claim to be providing complete data,” we wrote. Ms. Ferraro eventually relented, providing five years’ worth of tax returns from her husband, John Zaccaro.

Twenty years later, in the midst of a similar controversy, we feel much the same way. Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the putative Democratic presidential nominee, should make her tax returns public. Ms. Heinz Kerry has been reluctant to do so; campaign spokesman Michael Meehan now says she is preparing to make summary information available, though not necessarily her return itself. That’s an improvement over no disclosure, but it is short of what ought to be done.

So, where are the calls for Cindy McCain from the right wing?

Don’t hold your breath.

(h/t: Nitpicker)