Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made news by claiming an unnamed third party connected to Bain Capital told him it is likely Mitt Romney payed almost no taxes for years. From Huffington Post:
Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.
“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.
“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?
This is baseless hearsay. Normally such wild claims wouldn’t even be entertained, but Romney’s bizarre refusal to release more returns is creating a situation where speculation and hearsay are the only thing that can fill the information vacuum.
What we do know is that Romney adamantly refuses to release more returns despite top conservatives calling on him to do so. We have also seen that Romney is unwilling or unable to answer even basic questions about them, while insisting he paid what the law requires, but not one penny more. This creates the overwhelming impression Romney is hiding something, which allows anyone who might have an idea what he is hiding to put forward their speculations unchallenged.
Of course the Romney campaign could at any time put a stop to these rumors by simply releasing his returns, but the fact that he still hasn’t only reinforces the impression that these claims may indeed be true or what he is hiding is even worse. The question becomes: if the rumors aren’t true, why isn’t Romney quickly disproving them by releasing his returns?
This latest rumor could be wrong, but if Romney keeps hiding the truth and refuses to disprove the rumors, he allows them to grow until they become the “reality” for many.