Should politicians running for office have to release their tax returns? The argument that they shouldn't is outweighed by the fun of pawing through the politician's personal business.
Take Newt Gingrich, who released his 2010 tax returns last week. First, there are little things like seeing that he had $200,000 stashed in Bank India. Nothing illegal about that, and there's probably an innocent explanation. Maybe Newt did some consulting for that TV show Outsourced. I thought it was karma when that show got cancelled after two seasons last spring. Or maybe Newt got paid to do some outsourcing.
Newt's tax return also shows alimony of $19,800 and household employee wages of $14,774. That may shed some light on the motives of Newt's his ex-wife Marianne, the one who accused him of proposing an open marriage. Yep, my bastard ex-husband makes over $3 million a year and barely pays me more than his housekeeper.
Then there're the various Gingrich enterprises with names like Gingrich Holdings, Inc., Gingrich Productions, Inc., and Lubbers Agency Inc. (apparently named after a married daughter). Newt and his current wife Callista derive $2.97 million of their $3.14 million in income in the form of salaries and corporate earnings from the closely held companies, with no solid information as to where all those earnings came from. We do know a few years back that Newt did earn some serious money consulting for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which subsequently had to be bailed out by taxpayers. But just how many other Freddie Macs are hiding in Gingrich Holdings? We'll likely never know.
And then there is the mystery of who actually owns Gingrich Holdings, Inc. The tax returns don't say, but cross-checking some of the numbers is revealing. Newt's Form 1040 Schedule A lists $68,493 in cash contributions to charity from his various companies. However the Form 990-PF for the Gingrich Foundation shows that it received a cash contribution from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. in the amount of $152,609. Since Newt and Callista only deducted 45% of that amount on their tax return, the inference is that someone else must own the remaining 55% of Gingrich Holdings, Inc.
That's a pretty powerful inference. Because if Newt and Callista's share of the $2,453,409 earnings from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. is only 45%, that means some unnamed person or persons earned $3,013,023 from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. So who owns Newt Gingrich? We already knew that he could be bought, that was the point of those ethics charges that caught up with him in the late 1990s. The question still to be answered is who may now own him (or 55% of his company).
Another tidbit is that when you add up all the taxes Newt and Callista paid in 2010 you come up with the princely sum of $1,159,260, or roughly 37% of their combined gross income. We should say thank you for that.
Also Newt and Callista, through their personal donations and Gingrich Foundation grants, gave $132,640 to charity in 2010. Again, they deserve a big thank you.