Elizabeth Warren demanded Monday that Senator Scott Brown release more of his tax returns. The only problem was that Brown, her Republican rival, had already released six years of tax returns while Warren has refused to release more than four years of her filings.
Asked to reconcile that apparent conflict, Warren backed off her demand, saying today that six years was enough. She did not, however, offer to release any more of her IRS filings.
Both candidates were asked by the Globe in April to release six years of tax returns, a common request to check for conflicts of interest, and contradictions between a candidate’s policy pronouncements and personal financial practices.
Brown agreed to allow reporters into his campaign office to inspect all six years of documents. Warren would only agree to allow reporters to inspect four years worth of returns, releasing some documents outright and allowing reporters into her office to review the supporting documents covering the same period.
The Brown campaign said at the time that Warren must have something to hide, a similar charge Democrats are now relentlessly leveling against Mitt Romney, who has only released his 2010 returns along with an estimate for 2011.
Warren joined the Democratic criticism of Romney on Monday, demanding that the presidential candidate release 10 years worth of returns, GoLocalWorcester reported.
“I think Scott Brown should release his tax returns for all the years he’s been in public service,” Warren said. “He’s been in public service for 20 years, then he should have 20 years of tax returns.”
This morning, after questions from the Globe, the Warren campaign backed off its demands.
“Elizabeth was asked whether Mitt Romney should release more tax returns. She thinks that as a candidate for the highest office in the land, he should,” her spokeswoman Alethea Harney said in a statement. “Both Elizabeth and Senator Brown have released multiple years of tax returns that she believes give voters an understanding of each candidate’s financial circumstances.”
Warren also said Monday, as she has in the past, that candidates should only release tax documents for the years in which they have been in public service.
But that is not a universally accepted standard. It would mean, for example, that first-time candidates who spent their careers on Wall Street or running banks would not have to release any tax returns at all.
And even under that standard, Warren has limited her definition for her own career in public service.
She has included the years she spent leading a congressional panel overseeing the bank bailouts and the time she spent helping President Obama establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
But she has not included her work from 1995 to 1997 as adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, or her 2006 appointment to the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion.
Brown’s campaign manager Jim Barnett said in a statement this afternoon that “Elizabeth Warren deserves a pair of gold medals for backpedaling and hypocrisy.”
He also repeated demands that she release employment records from Harvard and other universities where she has taught law to prove whether she used her claim of Native American heritage to advance her professional career.
“In her fumbled attempt to smear Scott Brown, she has only raised new questions about why she continues to hold back tax records requested by the media,” said Barnett. “We renew our call on Warren to stop the stonewalling, release the remaining two years of tax returns that Scott Brown has already released.”Noah Bierman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.