Hundreds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill have for months demanded that President Donald Trump release his tax returns, but very few elected officials are actually willing to share their own.
The Capitol Hill-based newspaper Roll Call reached out to every member of Congress — more than 500 total — and asked them to release their tax returns. Only 37 replied, and of those, only six shared their returns.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) recently described transparency as “a cornerstone of democracy.” But that transparency — at least when it comes to tax returns — applies only to the president, according to Luján and many of his colleagues.
Beginning in April, Roll Call sent written requests on three different occasions over several weeks to each lawmaker and their key staff members. According to the newspaper’s tally, at least 237 lawmakers have at one point demanded Trump share his financial records.
It should be noted that, based on Roll Call’s review, in addition to the six who released their returns to the D.C. outlet, six others shared their taxes elsewhere and 45 have previously published at least part of their returns.
Luján has never shared his tax returns. And the Democrat’s spokesman thinks Congress should be held to a different standard.
“Unlike individuals seeking the presidency, there is no tradition or precedent that necessitates the release of a member’s tax returns,” spokesman Joe Shoemaker said. “If Congressman Luján decides to run for President, [Congressional Quarterly] Roll Call will be among the first to whom we release his tax returns.”
While far fewer Republicans have called for Trump to release his tax returns, they seem equally unwilling to make their returns public.
During an interview on Kansas Public Radio in April, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) called on Trump to publish he returns.
“You know, Congress doesn’t do this, by the way,” he said at the time. “There’s a lot of congressmen calling him out in both parties that haven’t done that as well. Maybe it’s something we need to look at … everyone has to release their taxes if you run for federal office.”
Nevertheless, Yoder declined to respond to Roll Call’s request for him to share his own tax returns, given he is in federal office.
“We found a big discrepancy there — you know, members of Congress who are willing to say the president should release his returns,” Stephanie Akin, a staff writer for Roll Call, said. “Overwhelmingly, time and again, when members of Congress are asked to release their returns, they say, ‘No.’”
During the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns — a practice that has been in place since President Richard Nixon in 1973 — was a big deal. Just weeks before Election Day, a CNN poll showed that 73 percent of registered voters said Trump should share his tax returns, including 49 percent of Republicans.
“The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on ABC’s “This Week,” just days after Trump took office. “We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care.”