Should Mitt Reveal His Taxes? Taking the Question to the States

Those calls for Mitt Romney to open up his tax books now include enough prominent Republicans that the Obama campaign can fit them into a minute-long ad.

We've heard from the George Wills and the Bill Kristols and the Robert Bentleys. But what about the dozens and dozens of Republican officials at the state level who have endorsed Romney?

Under the assumption that all politics is local, we checked in with as many Romney-backing state senators, state representatives, delegates and mayors as we could with one question: Do you think Romney should release his tax records?

Some said yes. Some said no. Some said who cares. For whatever reason, the folks in Georgia were much more responsive than anyone else. Here are some of the results.

Donna Hutchinson, state representative in Arkansas:

"We have been waiting almost four years for Pres. Obama to release his college records -- classes completed, grades, etc. I believe he attended three different schools. His thesis is even sealed; I find that strange as my masters thesis is in the U of A library and anyone can check it out. Since the waiting period has been longer for Pres. Obama -- when he releases college records -- then Mr. Romney should definitely release his tax returns. My guess it will show he made unbelievable amounts of money. I thought he gave his inheritance away, so he had to make his fortune in business. I just can't understand why Obama's college record is so secretive."

B.J. Pak, state representative in Georgia:

"No. Tax returns are private information and there is no doubt Romney was a successful man. I never understood this 'requirement' that candidates release his tax returns -- most of the time it is to give the impression that the candidate has something to hide. I view this is relevant as much as those who call for president Obama to release his college transcripts; both are irrelevant at this point."

Joe Harrison, state representative in Louisiana:

"I find it ironic. Tax returns are legal, but yet we have an attorney general who won't release things. ... I think eventually he will, but if I were in his position, I would say quid pro quo, and you release yours -- the president, stop the executive order on the issue of Fast & Furious. ... I would say I'll release them, but let's release everything. Let's be open."

Les Fossel, state representative in Maine:

"I don't care. I'm no longer very interested in national politics. I focus on trying to make Maine a better place. We actually accomplish things here."

Mike Ball, state representative in Alabama:

"It sounds a lot like political posturing. ... If they get 12 years or 20 years or however many they want, I'm sure they'll be very lengthy and have a lot of information in them, and I'm guessing if they get all that, it would create a lot of red herrings to chase. ... I think that he should do the most recent ones. He's already done two. Another one would certainly be adequate, but I think the campaign -- this is not about transparency. This is about politics."

Nic Kipke, delegate in Maryland:

"I think he should when President Obama releases his college transcripts. Or better yet when he lifts Executive Privilege on the complete 'Fast & Furious' documents requested by Congress."

Ryan Bingham, mayor of Torrington, Conn.:

"I don't believe that whether or not Mitt Romney releases all or some of his tax returns will affect my vote in any way. He should do what he believes is right. That is his decision."

Greg Lavelle, state representative in Delaware:

"I really don't care one way or another. (I saw Bill Kristol on Fox yesterday morning as well.) The Dems call for him to release 10-plus years of tax records is simply an effort to distract from current administration's record. The media's fascination plays into it. Governor Romney is wealthy and wealthy (rich, if you will) people have complicated financial records as a result of a whacky tax code. There is no suggestion that he has broken the law. The IRS has his records and should know that one way or another."

Kathy Afzali, delegate in Maryland:

"What else do they want? It's like, come on. You know that the man has money. ... Romney clearly has been a very successful man. ... He earned it himself. So get over it, Barack, and get on with the issues on the economy that you've run into the ground."

Mike Hill, state representative in Alabama:

"No -- I do not think anyone should have to release their tax return for any reason. I am middle class and make a good living and that is all, so I have nothing to hide. But I think my tax return is personal. Everyone should take, should and does take every tax break available. It seems when a politician takes the breaks available he is doing something wrong."

Cary Weston, mayor of Bangor, Maine:

"I think regardless of party, office, and platform, we spend far too much time chasing the insignificant and feeding the nonsensical desire to find dirt. I think we've enabled the dumbing down of society in order to validate inaction and lack of contribution as acceptable. I think we don't take enough opportunities to tell people they will fail, they will be scarred, they will get bruises ... and it's all going to be OK. We don't focus on the core fundamentals of common sense. We don't ask enough questions. Simply put -- we don't care about what we should be caring about enough. So -- regarding your question about tax returns -- I haven't spent a second thinking about it."

Michael Hough, delegate in Maryland:

"When President Obama releases the fast and furious papers, which contain information about the death of a border agent-- then Mitt Romney should release all his tax returns. Until then Obama is just blowing smoke about transparency."

Mark Darr, lieutenant governor of Arkansas:

"Not one constituent has called to complain or ask about Governor Romney releasing his tax returns, but we hear daily from individuals who are concerned with our economy and creating more jobs. Right now I am more concerned with President Obama's recent anti-business remarks that he gave on the campaign trail this past weekend."

Calvin Hill, state representative in Georgia:

"Makes no difference to me."

Cam Ward, state senator in Alabama:

"Personally I do not care if he releases his tax returns or not. I believe this entire issue is a distraction from more important matters facing our nation and its economy. This seems to be a process story more than a matter of public policy. I would imagine at some point Gov. Romney will release his tax returns in the same fashion as other candidates traditionally have."

Edward Lindsey, state representative in Georgia:

"To put it simply, I am more concerned with the amount of additional taxes President Obama seeks to impose on the American people than the amount of taxes Governor Romney has personally paid in the past."

Mark Boughton, mayor of Danbury, Conn.:

"I think with all the problems that this country faces, we shouldn't be wasting another minute talking about Mitt Romney's tax returns. There are approximately 15 million people out of work, our people need access to housing, we need an energy policy that lowers the cost of doing business, we need to work on our infrastructure, our schools are hurting. Tax returns? Really? That's what the Obama campaign wants to talk about? Did I mention there are 15-20 million Americans going to bed tonight without a job? It's the economy, the economy, the economy."

Allen Peake, state representative in Georgia:

"I believe Governor Romney has provided 2 years worth of tax returns, which is consistent with what Senator McCain provided in 2008, so I am satisfied with that disclosure. I also believe this is beyond what is required by law. My personal opinion is that the Obama camp continues to use this issue to distract from the President's miserable and failed record, especially when it comes to the economy."

Addie Eckardt, delegate in Maryland:

"No It is his decision and I think the election needs to focus on the issues this county faces."

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