WASHINGTON — There may be no better way to determine whether a politician’s personal interests could pose a conflict than seeing his or her tax return. Yet, as is the case in many congressional campaigns, none of New Hampshire’s Senate candidates have agreed to release their returns.
The Globe and New Hampshire television station WMUR made separate requests to review six years of returns, the length of a Senate term, this month. The candidates have not shut the door completely — offering caveats designed to put their opponents on the spot in their initial refusals. But as of Thursday morning, none had said yes.
Certain presidential appointees are routinely asked to share their tax returns as part of the confirmation process, and public disclosure has become a standard ritual in presidential campaigns. Though congressional candidates often deflect such requests, specialists and open government advocates say the case for personal financial transparency is growing stronger as the economy and tax system become more complex. The Center for Responsive Politics reported in January that, for the first time in history, the majority in Congress — at least 268 of 534 members then in office — were millionaires, according to 2012 financial disclosure forms.
“There’s so much money flowing around,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “It’s time for voters to ask for more information as to where they get their money from.”
The Globe reported this month that former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, now running for the Republican Senate nomination in New Hampshire, had received stock options once valued at $1.3 million for serving as an adviser to an obscure Florida company that had scant assets and no permanent office space. Brown has since resigned from the firm’s advisory board and relinquished his stock options, whose value had declined by about half in recent months.
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