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Romney's tithing

Published August 25, 2012 1:01 am

Candidates give up privacy
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mitt Romney wants voters to give him a pass on revealing the content of his tax returns because facts about his contributions to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should remain only between him and the church. The LDS Church, after all, does not discuss the contributions of its members, even with other members, he points out.

There is just one — rather large — flaw in his reasoning. Other church members are not candidates for the office of president of the United States. Romney is.

It seems obvious that, when you seek the highest elected office in the land, you give up the normal expectations of privacy that the rest of us enjoy. Romney's father in 1967, when he was running for the same office, released more than a decade of his tax returns so that voters could better understand his business dealings and other "private" information they might use to decide for whom to vote. George Romney, also a Mormon, did not use the "tithing is private" argument.

On the contrary, George Romney provided more information than was customary, because, he said, "one year could be a fluke."

Mitt Romney should do the same. But, so far, he has released only his return for 2010 and an estimate for 2011.

The information in Mitt Romney's tax returns might not contain anything related to his qualifications to be president. On the other hand, voters have a right to decide what is relevant, especially when Romney is running primarily on his business experience and success. If he were running on his record as governor of Massachusetts, information about his income, taxes paid, investments, tax shelters, off-shore accounts and such might be less relevant.

But, in that case, his success in getting Massachusetts residents insured under a health-reform system that includes a government mandate would be even more of a campaign issue. And Romney doesn't like the stark similarities between that state's system and the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress under President Barack Obama.

Romney's wife, Ann, told an interviewer on television just last week that she and her husband give 10 percent of their income to "charity." The LDS Church asks its members to give 10 percent of their income to the church as tithing. If that 10 percent contribution to his church is what Romney wants to keep private, we don't understand his reasons.

Everybody know's he is a Mormon; tithing contributions would be no surprise. His claim to privacy doesn't hold water. He gave that up when he set his sights on the White House. Romney says he has nothing to hide. Why, then, the secrecy?