by Andrew Walden
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) recently co-introduced the “Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act.” According to a March 29, 2019 news release from Hirono’s office, the bill “would … require that a sitting president and any presidential nominees of a major political party release his or her public federal income tax returns from the three most recent tax years.”
But as a US Senate candidate, then-Representative Hirono refused to release hers.
Civil Beat, March 8, 2012 asked Hawaii Congressional and Senatorial candidates to release their tax returns:
“A spokeswoman for Hirono implied that financial disclosures that the congresswoman is already required to submit are sufficient.
“Every year Mazie publicly files a thorough and detailed Personal Financial Disclosure form with the House of Representatives,” wrote spokeswoman Susan Michels in an email. “Mazie also believes holding public office should always be about serving the public interest. That’s why earlier this year she also championed passage of the STOCK Act, to prevent anyone from using their position as a Member of Congress to do insider-trading on Wall Street.”
But tax returns would provide additional information not required in the financial disclosure forms that Michels cited. For example, those statements do not detail income or charitable donations…..”
Hawai’i Free Press asked Senator Hirono if she would now release her tax returns—in light of her call for President Trump to release his. Her office did not respond. Nor did the office of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).
We also queried the offices of Representatives Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard—and Gabbard’s Presidential campaign.
With Case and Gabbard voting ‘aye,’ the US House, March 8, 2019, passed HR1 which, among other things, requires Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates to make public 10 years of tax returns via the Federal Election Commission.
Case spokesperson Nestor Garcia responded: “Congressman Case has not released his tax returns, although like other federal candidates and officeholders he does file full financial disclosures. HR1 would apply only to presidential candidates to codify a longstanding tradition dating back to President Richard Nixon.”
Gabbard’s office said only: “Your email was forwarded to the campaign.” Gabbard’s campaign replied neither to our inquiry nor the inquiry forwarded from her Congressional office.
Civil Beat asked a total of eleven 2012 candidates for their tax returns, including current Hawaii US Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2) and Ed Case (D-HI1):
Case, too, appeared willing to provide his returns — and followed up several times with questions about exactly what information Civil Beat was requesting. In response to a Feb. 16 email in which Civil Beat clarified that it wanted copies of his tax returns, rather than select line-item information from them, he suggested that we review financial disclosure information included with campaign filings instead. But on March 8, he made it clear that his decision will be contingent on what Lingle and Hirono decide to do.
“I am willing to provide the summary pages of my ’08-’10 tax returns if and when both Hirono and Lingle do the same,” Case wrote in an email. “If they refuse to do that, I am willing to provide my ‘effective tax rate’ together with total income and total federal tax paid for those three years if and when both Hirono and Lingle do the same.” …
Honolulu City Council member Gabbard sounded a lot like Case and Lingle in explaining their reluctance to share their tax returns.
Gabbard told Civil Beat that she would be “happy to provide” the returns but only “if all my opponents (both Democrat and Republican) do the same.”
A search of Hawaii news websites reveals no incidence of any of these officeholders having ever revealed their tax returns.
This session, the Hawaii State Senate approved SB94, “Requir(ing) candidates for president and vice president of the United States to post their most recent income tax return on the Internet….”
The bill did not apply to Hawai state or federal candidates. It died in the House on April Fools Day.