Watchdog group calls for federal investigation of Romney’s financial disclosure

By Muriel Kane
Friday, January 27, 2012 22:18 EDT
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has called on the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to refer Mitt Romney to the Department of Justice for having filled an inaccurate campaign disclosure form last year.

In a letter (pdf) sent on Friday to the acting director of the OGE, the watchdog group stated, “The 2010 tax return Mr. Romney released earlier this week includes numerous assets not included on the personal financial disclosure form Mr. Romney filed in August 2011. … According to OGE’s website, ‘when ethics officials find evidence that an employee has violated an ethics criminal statute or regulation, they must refer that evidence to the appropriate authority for action.’”

Romney’s tax return included income from at least 23 funds and partnerships that were not cited in the campaign disclosure form, including interest income from a Swiss bank account and shares in offshore companies located in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

A Romney spokesman has described the errors as “trivial” and “inadvertent,” but CREW finds that explanation unsatisfactory.

“Mr. Romney says the errors are minor, but then again he also claims earning $374,000 in speaking fees isn’t much money,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated. “In reality, filing an inaccurate disclosure form can be a criminal offense. As a result, the Office of Government Ethics should forward the matter on to the Department of Justice to determine whether Mr. Romney deliberately withheld information.”

“Although Mr. Romney’s campaign has said the candidate will be amending his PFD,” the letter continues, “simply revising the form after having been caught filing an inaccurate one is not sufficient. The numerous inconsistencies between the PFD and the tax return — combined with Mr. Romney’s previous refusals to make the tax return public — suggest Mr. Romney may have deliberately failed to include some of these assets on the PFD. Because intentionally filing an inaccurate disclosure form is a federal crime, in accord with OGE policy, you should refer this matter to the Department of Justice for further investigation.”

Photo by WEBN-TV from Flickr

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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