President Donald Trump’s long opposition to the release of his tax records has been a legitimate matter of concern for people on both sides of the political aisle. Such records are routinely disclosed by modern presidential candidates and the information could prove relevant to some of the allegations facing the President regarding his personal financial interests as well as past business practices. Moreover, the President’s long excuse that the taxes are subject to ongoing proceedings with the IRS (and being withheld by the advice of counsel) seems dubious at best. However, while vociferously demanding such records from the President, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has steadfastly refused to release her own. Indeed, Chief of Staff Drew Hammill virtually mocked the suggestion of such transparency in the public interest. Hammill dismissed such suggestions and said that Pelosi “will gladly release her tax returns if and when she runs for president.” The problem is that Pelosi succeeded in running for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives which not only gives her great ability to advance her own financial interests but puts her just one slot (after the Vice President) from becoming president in an emergency.
Hammill had to dismiss the notion of full disclosure as some type of joke because there is no good argument for why Pelosi does not want the public to see the same tax disclosures from the Speaker that they do from the President or Vice President.
Pelosi has co-sponsored legislation (H.R. 1) that would require the president and vice president to release their tax returns. That law states that “With respect to each taxable year for an individual who is the President or Vice President, not later than the due date for the return of tax for the taxable year, such individual shall submit to the Federal Election Commission a copy of the individual’s income tax returns for the taxable year and for the 9 preceding taxable years.”
Pelosi coauthored a Jan. 3 op-ed for USA Today to declare “Transparency, ethics and unity will be the guiding light of the Democratic Congress.” Yet, this should be an easy way to distinguish the conduct of the Democratic leaders from Trump. While a couple of reporters have pursued this issue, there has been relatively little written about this glaring contradiction in the position of the Democratic leadership.