Mitt Romney is raising money with former vice president Dick Cheney in Wyoming tonight — and national Democrats are seizing on the fundraiser to further press the presumptive GOP nominee to release more of his tax returns.
“Clearly, Gov. Romney believes he plays by a different set of rules than everybody else,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Thursday afternoon on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee. “It’s the same attitude that he brings to this issue that we saw in the Oval Office under President Bush and particularly Vice President Cheney.”
Waxman argued that, given Romney’s decision not to release more of his tax returns, the former Massachusetts governor “couldn’t even get confirmed by the United States Senate if he were being proposed for some Cabinet job.”
Romney’s camp has dismissed Democrats’ tax-return calls as an attempt by the Obama campaign to distract voters from the most important issue at hand, the economy.
And on Tuesday, Romney told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that it is Obama who has the transparency problem, citing the president’s invocation of executive privilege last month in declining to release documents related to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation.
Asked Thursday to comment on Romney’s response, Waxman contended that it was “pretty childish” for Romney to make the argument that he would decline to release his own tax records because “somebody else didn’t disclose something that he wanted disclosed.”
“A candidate for president does not have the ability to exert executive privilege, and executive privilege was exerted over and over and over again by the Bush administration,” Waxman said. “We didn’t go and drag them through contempt, because there is such a thing as executive privilege. But Governor Romney does not have executive privilege to . . . [decline to release] his tax returns.”
A Romney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the Congressional Research Service, Obama has asserted executive privilege once, compared with six times for Bush and 14 times for former president Bill Clinton.
And when it comes to the executive privilege issue, both candidates have been on both sides of the matter, as The Post’s David Nakamura detailed last month.