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June 2, 2015

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Petitioners back Reid’s fight with Romney over release of tax returns

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Sam Morris

James Fields talks with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid special project manager Michael Vannozzi while delivering signed petitions calling for presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release tax documents Friday, August 10, 2012 outside Reid’s office at the Lloyd D. George Federal Building in Las Vegas.

Sen. Harry Reid

Sen. Harry Reid

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tactics in calling for Mitt Romney to release years of tax returns might be in question, but Reid’s message is resonating with many.

Reid, who cited an anonymous source who claimed the presumptive GOP nominee for president did not pay taxes for a ten-year stretch, has come under fire from a chorus of critics who said has he was playing political games at best and was a liar at worst.

Yet, a CNN poll released Thursday showed 63 percent of respondents thought Romney should disclose more of his tax returns, and Friday a Las Vegas chapter of the group MoveOn.org delivered a petition to the Nevada Democrat’s downtown office supporting Reid’s efforts to force Romney to disclose more of his financial information. Thus far Romney, a multimillionaire, has released his 2010 tax return and is releasing his 2011 return, as well.

“We want to let Harry Reid know that we support his request for Romney’s taxes,” said Jim Walsh, who started the petition and was one of a dozen MoveOn.org members who delivered approximately 39,000 signatures to Michael Vannozzi, Reid’s manager of special projects.

“When Romney ran for senator of Massachusetts, he requested Ted Kennedy’s tax returns. Frankly, I’d like to see 20 years of his returns to get a good picture, but 10 will suffice,” Walsh said.

In 1994 Romney ran unsuccessfully to unseat Kennedy, Massachusetts’ longtime U.S. senator and a Democratic Party icon. Romney declared during that campaign he would release his own tax returns after Kennedy released his. In the end, neither candidate released their returns. In 2002, all of Romney’s Democratic opponents for Massachusetts governor released their returns, but Romney did not.

Vannozzi thanked the group for its support of Reid but said he was not authorized to comment on the issue or what Reid’s next move would be.

“Romney is applying for a job, and we are the interviewers,” said James Fields, another of those delivering the petitions. “We demand transparency so we know what we are getting. Romney’s father knew that one year of returns was useless.”

Fields also handed Vannozzi a pair of boxing gloves as a symbol of their support for Reid, a former boxer, taking the fight to Romney.

“We, the undersigned, respectfully request that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney release at least the last 10 years of his income tax returns as Senator Harry Reid has requested,” the petition read.

President Barack Obama has released his tax returns for every year dating to 2000.

Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of his tax returns in a then-unprecedented demonstration of openness in 1968 when he ran for president.

Reid also claimed that Romney used oversees accounts to dodge his true tax bill, depositing “his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.”

Days after Reid made his push to back Romney into a political corner, Romney pushed back during a speech in North Las Vegas.

“Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” Romney said.

“Let me also say, categorically, I have paid taxes every year — and a lot of taxes,” Romney told reporters after his speech in North Las Vegas. “So Harry is simply wrong. And that is why I am so anxious for him to give us the names of the people who put this forward. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign.”

Reid has said his source was “extremely credible” but has refused to name the source or give further details regarding the veracity of the claims.

The MoveOn.org members said the petition, which started six days ago, would be online for another week or two and they will continue to collect signatures.

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