This week Gawker published over 950 pages of Bain documents including financial statements, internal audits, and investor letters. Gawker reports that the partnerships and limited liability corporations listed in those documents show that Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney earned at least $913,300 in income from a minimum of $10,069,000 in assets according to his 2012 financial disclosure.
Some of the tidbits that the leaked documents reveal include: details on tax avoidance plans with funds parked in the Cayman Islands, the support his money managers had for President Obama’s stimulus and acknowledgement that “regulation will improve liquidity and transparency,” at least $3 million invested in casinos (Las Vegas Sands, LLC), investments in a cigarette distributor company, Core-Mark, and nearly a $4 million loan to the parent company of the National Enquirer.
Romney, who has been hounded by pundits, the Obama campaign, Democrats and fellow Republicans to release his tax returns for weeks told Parade Magazine that he does not want to release more of those returns because it would reveal how much he gives the LDS church in tithing. In the current issue of Parade, Romney said:
“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given. This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”
The LDS (Mormon) church, of which Romney is a member, requires its followers to tithe 10% of their income. Using the 2010 tax returns that Romney has disclosed plus an estimate for 2011, it has been reported that the candidate and his wife Ann gave the church more than $4 million based on a bit over $40 million in income for that two year period.
Romney has also been careful about how he discusses his faith in public because of the Mormon’s church controversial past (not allowing African Americans in the priesthood until 1978 and polygamy to name a few). But he has gone on record expressing how important his faith is to him and his family. Back in 2007, he offered this when asked about how strictly he follows the tenets of the Mormon Church in the context of baptism of the dead, a practice that has outraged Jews, “I’m not a cafeteria Mormon, if you will, I’m true-blue through and through.”
According to the official website of the LDS church, gambling is explicitly opposed. The church states, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opposed to gambling, including lotteries sponsored by governments. Church leaders have encouraged Church members to join with others in opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of any form of gambling.”
Beyond gambling, the LDS church is also strongly against tobacco and alcohol use. In New Era, a monthly publication put out by the church, a writer claimed, “Beer and cigarettes distance you from the Spirit.” Brad Wilcox of New Era also made other claims in the article listed on the official church website including statements that beer and cigarettes lower self-esteem and diminish ambition.
The leaked Bain documents show that the firm, which Romney co-founded, invested in a cigarette distributor and in casinos. These investments are not in congruence with the tenets of Romney’s faith or with the wholesome image his campaign has been attempting to project. The secrecy surrounding Bain and Romney’s finances may reveal that there are additional “unsavory investments” that conflict that with his faith’s teachings. It is as if Romney is saying, “No cigarettes or gambling for me and my Brethren, but if those enterprises earn money for me, it’s acceptable.”
And finally, Romney’s latest excuse for not releasing additional tax returns about wanting to keep his church donations private gives the impression that he’s hiding behind his faith. Romney’s father, George, who was a successful businessman in his own right and a devout Mormon was able to release 12 years worth of tax returns without drawing attention to his faith in a way that could bring more scrutiny.