(Updated 5:43 p.m.) The state Democratic party launched a website Wednesday criticizing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon for not having released her 2011 tax return.
McMahon has promised to release her tax returns but has yet to do so. She is the only candidate running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman who hasn’t disclosed her taxes.
The site, SecretMcMahon.com, features editorial articles questioning why the candidate’s return hasn’t been disclosed and a counter, informing visitors that, as of Wednesday, “It’s been 89 days since McMahon promised to release her taxes. We’re still waiting.”
The site also includes a 30-second video with ominous music that questions whether McMahon is hiding something in her tax return.
“What doesn’t she want Connecticut voters to know? Does she have offshore bank accounts? Lower tax rates than her employees?” the video asks through text printed over a 1040 tax form.
On Tuesday, McMahon’s campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said accountants were still working on completing the former WWE CEO’s tax returns. He said the campaign would be releasing them to the media once they are completed, though he did not know when they would be finished.
On Wednesday Murtaugh reiterated that the returns will be released. He dismissed the idea that McMahon was trying to conceal something about her finances.
“Speaking of taxes, Linda is the only candidate in this race who has a plan to cut taxes for the middle class and expand the economy,” he said.
“It’s the career politicians in Washington who have failed to create jobs. Talk about a lot of nothing,” Murtaugh added, referencing a video by Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays’ campaign, which used clips from the television show Seinfeld to suggest McMahon’s campaign was about nothing.
Candidates in the race started releasing their 2011 tax returns back in April after Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy challenged each candidate to disclose them. Murphy’s showed that he and his wife, Catherine Holahan, had a total income of $220,353. Murphy made $157,500 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Holahan made $62,625 as an attorney with Connecticut Legal Services.
Shays, who is running against McMahon for the Republican nomination, reported to the Internal Revenue Service that he and his wife, Betsi, had an adjusted gross income of $373,694, of which $108,034 came from their pensions.
Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who’s running against Murphy for the Democratic nomination, and her husband David Donaldson, who runs an insurance agency, made $154,360.
The focus on McMahon’s taxes and wealth represent a departure for Democrats who in 2010 took aim at some less than wholesome content in WWE programming. Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said tax returns have become a central issue this year, in part because of national politics.
“I think it’s a focus because we have two candidates who talk about taxes but haven’t released their tax returns. That’s Mitt Romney and Linda McMahon,” DiNardo said.
Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released his tax returns for one year but has so far refused to release returns for additional years. Romney’s unwillingness to release more of his tax history has been in the news recently as President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has repeatedly criticized him for it.
DiNardo said it’s an issue that resonates with voters, especially in an election cycle where the economy is a central concern.
“I think leadership in today’s political environment is about transparency. People have the right to know everything they can about a candidate,” she said.
DiNardo said she wasn’t worried that Democrats’ efforts to blast McMahon over tax issues will inadvertently boost Shays in the polls. Either way Murphy will be a stronger candidate in the general election, she said.
The Democratic website was launched the same day McMahon and Shays will meet for their last televised debate before the primary. The debate will be aired on NBC Channel 30 at 7 p.m.