Lizza, a panelist on CNN’s Starting Point program, asked Chaffetz to respond to fellow Romney surrogate Haley Barbour’s comment yesterday that he felt Romney should release his tax returns.
LIZZA: What’s your position on that? Should Governor Romney release all those tax returns? Right now he’s in a very unique position for a presidential candidate, he’s only released one year and a summary of 2011.
CHAFFETZ: Governor Romney has paid 100 percent of his taxes that are owed, he’s complied 100 percent what the law requires, um…
LIZZA: No I’m sorry Congressman, I was just asking if you think he should release them, not if he’s complied with the law. Should he release his tax returns?
CHAFFETZ: I think he has released the tax returns.
[Laughter and crosstalk]
LIZZA: Just yes or no, should he release them or not.
CHAFFETZ: No! No, I don’t…He’s been very successful, he’s released everything that he’s required to release, including paying more than 16 percent of his income to charitable givings. I think it’s a diversionary tactic. Most people, they don’t care about this. Governor Romney’s been very successful, get over it. It’s a reality.
Mitt Romney would be the first presidential candidate in over three decades to refuse to release a substantial number of recent tax returns. His campaign released one year of tax returns during the primaries, as fellow Republicans piled on his decision to keep the forms secret. Even Romney’s own father George, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, released 12 years of tax returns.
The returns have proved to be yet another wedge issue in the Romney camp. Aside from former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Newt Grinrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry all called on Romney to release his tax returns earlier this year. And as it happens, so did Mitt Romney, who pledged to release his returns in April, after he secured the GOP nomination. “I’ll release my returns in April, and probably for other years as well,” he said during a January primary debate in South Carolina. He has yet to do so.