Obama Campaign Slams Romney Over Financial Disclosure, Personal Taxes

BY Christina Bellantoni  April 6, 2012 at 9:01 AM EST

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama speaks at the American Society of Newspaper Editors Convention earlier this week. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The disclosure wars began in earnest on Thursday, with President Obama’s campaign lighting up the outcry machine over a Washington Post story about Mitt Romney’s finances.

Tom Hamburger writes:

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.

By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.

In 48 accounts from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in Boston, Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers.

Those are known only because Bain publicly disclosed them in government filings and on the Internet. But most of the underlying assets — the specific investments of Bain funds– are not known because Romney is covered by a confidentiality agreement with the company.

Several of Romney’s assets — including a large family trust valued at roughly $100 million, nine overseas holdings and 12 partnership interests– were not named initially on his disclosure forms, emerging months later when he agreed to release his tax returns.

There is no indication that Romney is violating any rules …

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina accused Romney of “exploiting a loophole in order to shield his assets and investments from public review” and holding his financial assets in a “black box.”

The Romney campaign responded that the GOP front-runner has done everything required of him and complained that President Obama was trying to “distract Americans from his failed record.”

The Obama campaign also unleashed this message to the president’s Twitter followers.

So what’s Romney hiding? Tweet @MittRomney to demand he release his tax returns. #WhatsRomneyHiding

In a statement, Messina also noted that “Romney’s own father released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president. President Bush released his tax returns dating back to 1991. And President Obama released his returns dating back to 2000 when he ran for president.”

Don’t forget the Obama campaign has already been making an issue of the fact that only Mr. Obama discloses his campaign bundlers. Expect to hear a lot more of that in the coming months. This story won’t be going away.

STILL IN THE RACE

Rick Santorum, taking a break from the trail for a few days, huddled privately with eight conservative leaders on Thursday. A spokesman said they plan to amp up calls for Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race and said the former Pennsylvania senator won’t go anywhere before the April 24 primary in his home state.

Richard Viguerie attended the meeting and told the National Review that Santorum is revamping his strategy.

“You can’t repeat the same behavior and expect different results,” he told the conservative magazine. “We’ve got to do things different. We’ve got to reengineer the campaign. We’ve got to add things, take things out, and make changes. Everyone recognizes that, from the candidate on down.”

According to the New York Times, “One person present — who said that revealing the details of a strategy meeting would mean no invitation next time — said no one indicated any decision to back off from Mr. Santorum.”

Chuck Todd reported on MSNBC Friday morning that there is talk of attempting to get Texas to change its late May primary to winner-take-all. He said that would require the Republican National Committee to sign off, an unlikely scenario given that the party is rallying around Romney.

JOBS DEBATE

After the president signed the JOBS Act on Thursday, Jeffrey Brown talked with a CEO supportive of the new IPO rules in the effort and a Columbia law school professor who thinks it was the wrong move.

Watch the segment here or below.

New unemployment figures are out Friday. Watch our site for the latest analysis.

DAILY DOWNLOAD

The NewsHour’s Margaret Warner (@margaretwarner) handled our regular Daily Download segment with Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn, examining the use of Pinterest by the presidential campaign.

They also discussed Mittloaf and the president’s ability to connect with voters.

Watch it here or below.

You can check out the NewsHour’s Pinterest page and learn more about how it’s used in politics and media by reading this post from our social media production assistant Teresa Gorman.

And here are some goofy Obama-themed art projects and recipes we found on Pinterest.

NewsHour politics desk assistant Ryan C. Brooks reports that Pinterest has grown around those users who principally use it: women, who share recipes and fashion ideas and account for 90 percent of the site’s users, according to some estimates. If you’re a guy, then you may find yourself “bropinning.” That’s dudes sharing dude stuff with other dudes: cars, craft beers and bacon.

It turns out that such a thing exists, even though it hasn’t reached Pinterest levels of excitement. There are more traditional male-centric sharing sites like Reddit. But for those guys who would rather not dabble in dream home layouts and cupcakes, it may come as some relief for those who feel the urge to pin to survey the posts on this morning’s Gentlemint front page: Batarang money clips, bacon taco shells and moustache pomade.

The numbers are nowhere near Pinterest’s audience, and Gentlemint founders aren’t quitting their day jobs yet. Pinterest has roughly 20 million users. Gentlemint is still small in comparison. But who knows? Maybe later this year President Obama and Romney will post pictures of their “man caves” to reach out for the 18-24 vote.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The New York Times gives the Republican National Committee’s fundraising situation the Nicholas Confessore treatment. He writes that “party officials said the Republican committee would report more than $30 million in cash on hand in filings due with the Federal Election Commission this month, including a $22 million ‘presidential trust’ that would be available to Mr. Romney should he become the party’s nominee.”

  • The Center for Health Transformation, New Gingrich’s think tank, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.

  • While stumping in the First State, Gingrich announced several endorsements from Delaware lawmakers Thursday.

  • Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign says more than 8,500 people attended his town hall meeting at the University of California-Berkeley Thursday.

  • At a fundraiser Thursday, the president talked about Romney and called him “the front-runner in the Republican side.”

  • The Obama campaign has a new web video with its own version of fact-checking Romney’s campaign trail rhetoric. Watch it here.

  • Gwen Ifill (@pbsgwen) on avoiding the veepstakes frenzy. (And don’t miss our pledge on the topic from Thursday.)

  • The Los Angeles Times explores how the Democrats are letting special interests in to the convention.

  • Talking Points Memo reports that Democrats will keep pushing the Buffett Rule this election year.

  • Both Mr. Obama and Romney agree that women should be admitted into Augusta National, home of the Masters.

  • TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro catches that for the first time, the conservative RightOnline confab will not follow the liberal Netroots Nation conference to its chosen city. Netroots will be in Providence, R.I., in June, but the RightOnline group will instead gather in Las Vegas this year.

TOP TWEETS

#FOLLOW FRIDAY

Ryan (@ryancbrooks) has the NewsHour’s recommendations for top tweeters to add to your feed.

@RyanLizza
In addition to putting out longer Political Scene pieces about once a month, the New Yorker’s Washington correspondent is often talking to sources, other journalists and promoting his shorter online updates. He actually reads and responds to people in his feed.

@BuzzFeedBen
Formerly of Politico, Ben Smith and his legendary Twitter feed now fall under the umbrella of BuzzFeed’s new political unit. Smith is among the fastest to catch breaking news on social media and breaks a lot of political news in his own right.

@blakehounshell
The managing editor of Foreign Policy is often keeping an eye on major stories around the world and chattering about news with foreign policy wonks and people across the globe. Good if you want to keep a pulse on the reaction to world events.

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will hold a hearing on racial profiling, prompted by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

  • Politico’s Manu Raju on the Angus King factor in the Maine Senate race.

  • Ken Mehlman, a former aide to President George W. Bush, will hold a fundraiser for the openly gay GOP candidate in a Massachusetts House race.

  • Howie Kurtz got some details about Keith Olbermann’s firing from Current TV and writes: “An e-mail obtained by The Daily Beast describes how Olbermann threw a glass mug on the set and shattered it after getting angry over a satellite problem. Others say he simply knocked it off the desk, and a source close to Olbermann calls the e-mail’s characterization ‘a gross overstatement.’”

  • Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad writes that former Rep. Heather Wilson’s Senate campaign in New Mexico has the GOP feeling confident about capturing that Democratic seat this fall.

  • A new poll finds Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar ahead of his GOP primary rival Richard Mourdock.

  • Eleanor Holmes Norton is not happy with Marion Barry.

  • Judy Woodruff looked at Pew’s study on media habits Thursday night.

  • Apparently Christina’s Facebook friends really really liked this Tumblr.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have no public events scheduled.

  • Ron Paul will hold a fundraiser at a private residence in Bel Air, Calif., at 10:30 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers and @suddinengel.

Correction: An earlier version of this entry gave an incorrect number of Pinterest users.