UPDATE, 3/27: STAND DOWN! In a Clinton press conference today, I asked her Communications Director, Howard Wolfson, whether Clinton would produce all her returns next week. He promised she would. I take him at his word. Stop faxing (unless you want to send a one-pager saying "Thank you!") -- and check back here next week when we'll see what exactly shows up. GREAT WORK, AND THANK YOU!!
Hillary Clinton, who claims to be “the most transparent” politician in America, isn’t. There’s a long history of her withholding documents relating to her personal history, her days as First Lady, and her financial records (for instance, why did she wait until after the important primary in NAFTA-hating Ohio to release her daily schedules as First Lady, which show all the work she did to help NAFTA pass?)
Today the issue is tax returns. It’s become customary for Presidential candidates to release copies of their returns so voters can see how they’ve made their money -- and who they might owe favors to.
Barack Obama released his tax returns to the media a year ago. Today he went even further and posted all his returns from 2000 forward on his campaign website. You can get .pdfs of them here.
But Hillary Clinton – who is rich enough that she’s personally loaned at least $5 million to her own campaign to keep it afloat – hasn’t produced any tax returns since her husband left office. That’s seven years during which she and Bill went from being civil servants to becoming incredibly wealthy – yet she won’t tell the public where her newly-acquired millions came from. (At first, she ignored the issue. Then, she said she wouldn't produce them until she actually received the nomination. Next, she said she would produce them sometime "around" April 15. Now, she's agreed to produce something tax-wise, but not until 3 days before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22 -- nearly a month away, and not leaving Pennsylvania voters much time to really thing about any issues her returns might raise -- and won't say exactly what she'll provide: for instance, will it be just the 1040s, or also the schedules and attachments that contain the actual details?)
A more cynical person than me might suspect those tax returns contain something Clinton would rather hide -- but Senator Clinton has a simpler explanation.
Why hasn’t she done what every other candidate has done, and made copies of her tax returns available early enough to make a difference? Because, she claims, "I'm a little busy right now" – as if she personally needs to rummage through her filing cabinet, run to Kinko’s, and look up the fax number for the Associated Press.
Personally, I think it's easier to photocopy a tax return than Clinton thinks. In fact, since 2007's returns are due in less than a month, everyone in America has just finished, or soon will be, filling out, copying (for their own files), and sending off a tax return. In other words, we’re all doing exactly what Clinton claims she “doesn’t have time” to do!
So here’s an idea: LET’S ALL SHOW HILLARY HOW EASY IT IS, BY SENDING HER COPIES OF OUR OWN TAX RETURNS. It’s ridiculously simple:
1. Grab this year’s tax return, and some past years’ returns too if they’re handy, and copy them.
2. Take a Sharpie and black out any personal information like your name, social security number, etc. – we don’t want any identity theft!
3. Scribble a brief note, maybe in huge Sharpie letters on the first page of your return, saying something like: “Hey, Hil: if I can do this, so can you. Please produce your 2000-2006 returns NOW.”
4. Fax to one of Clinton’s campaign offices. (I say fax, not mail, because all mail to Senators has to be screened for anthrax before it’s opened.)
That’s it! Grassroots activism at its best (and simplest!). Again: photocopy, Sharpie, note, fax – and you’re a “netboots” activist (informed by the Internet, but taking action, "boots on the ground"). Feel good? It should!
Here are three important guidelines to make sure you’re just sending a message, not harassing or interfering with her campaign:
1. Please keep your cover note polite and to the point.
2. Don’t send faxes to Clinton’s official Senate offices (either in D.C. or in New York); those numbers are for her real work, and we don’t want to interfere with that in any way.
3. Do your best to fax a local campaign office, not the national one. That way, the load will be spread among many fax machines, rather than jamming up a few important ones and making them unusable for campaign business. Again: we’re sending a message, not doing a dirty trick by jamming her lines.
Contact information for Clinton’s various campaign offices can be found on her website’s “States” page. If her local campaign office shows a telephone number but not a fax number, give them a call and ask politely what their fax number is (and please share that info in the comments section of this post so others in your area can use it). If her website doesn’t give any local information for your state (e.g., she has lots of info for Pennsylvania, where she expects to win, and none for North Carolina, where she doesn’t), then you don’t have much choice, and need to use one of her other numbers. Only for those who don’t have a local office to telephone or fax to, here are some fax numbers you can try:
National Campaign Headquarters (Virginia): 703-962-8600
Pennsylvania Headquarters: 215-625-0379
New York Headquarters: 212-213-3041
If I can get more fax numbers to spread things out, I’ll post them here -- so please check back if the numbers above get too busy.
Thanks for playing “help the candidates be transparent!” – and let us know how it goes!