Mitt Parts The Political Seas

24 Aug

Mitt Romney, Tax Dodger and Devout Mormon Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, has made the dull topic of taxes controversial.

Mitt Romney says in a new interview that one of the reasons he’s distressed about disclosing his tax returns is that everyone sees how much money he and his wife, Ann, have donated to his Mormon church, and that’s a number he wants to keep private.

“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given,” Romney tells Parade magazine in an edition due out Sunday (Aug. 26). “This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”

Romney has released his 2010 tax returns in his White House campaign and, so far, a summary of last year’s tax information. But despite pressure from Republican opponents in the primaries and President Obama’s re-election campaign, Romney has refused to disclose more.

While it may not be a major reason, Romney says disclosing his charitable donations isn’t something he wants to do.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to donate 10 percent of their gross income to the faith, and Romney’s disclosure early this year shows he did just that and also forked over more through his family charity.

Romney pulled in more than $40 million in 2010 and 2011, his campaign reported, and paid about $4.1 million to the LDS church. That’s in addition to about $4.8 million his Tyler Charitable Foundation donated to the faith.

Whether Romney’s tithing dodge moves prospective voters into his camp is questionable. This tithing dodge will hearten those who identify with religious groups and just about anyone who likes a little rebellion, even if the rebel is a multimillionaire with an otherwise milquetoast persona. It will not convince anyone who believes Romney is hiding dead bodies in those tax returns, hearten those who want rich people to pay a fair share, and outright infuriate those opposed to religious institutions or concerned about the Mormons. In other words, Romney has managed to define himself and start forming an electoral coalition. it remains to be seen if this tithing dodge will force an error by his opponents. Mitt Romney is evolving as a candidate.

Asked about tithing, the custom by which Mormons are expected to donate 10% of their income to the church, Ann Romney told the magazine: “I love tithing. When Mitt and I give that check, I actually cry.”

“So do I, but for a different reason,” Romney added, in an interview to be published this weekend. “Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given. This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”

Now, cut out the blather about privacy – works well in focus groups – and Romney and his wife almost come across as a middle-class couple struggling to make ends meet who just happen to be very devout and community-minded. It’s possible Mitt Romney has a sense of humor.

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