Amid all the clamor this week over Governor Romney's personal financials -- shell companies in Bermuda, Swiss bank accounts, apparent control of Bain Capital well after he says he left the company -- one critic's voice rang a little hollow.
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Lobbyist-turned-Governor-turned-Lobbyist Haley Barbour, formerly of the great state of Mississippi, http://www.nationaljournal.com/2012-presidential-campaign/barbour-romney-should-release-more-tax-returns-20120710">had this to say about Romney releasing his tax returns:
Apparently, Mr. Barbour doesn't anticipate getting the VP nod from Mr. Romney, or you'd think he'd be nicer to the candidate. And given http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2007/sep/12/haleys-shadow-money/">his own shady dealings on personal financials when he was running for election and re-election as governor, you think Barbour would be a bit more coy.
In 2007, we wrote about Haley's own feet-dragging on releasing information about his blind trust, and what, exactly, his ties were to his old firm, Barbour Griffin and Rogers (BGR), a high-powered GOP lobbying firm with Washington D.C. offices.
The true nature of his connection to the firm was answered in part soon after Barbour left office -- he http://www.bgrdc.com/x-news/pressreleases-2012/1-HB-Press-Release.html">returned to BGR within hours of leaving the governor's mansion, according to a press release issued by the firm. (Perhaps his governorship might fairly be characterized as a "paid sabbatical" from BGR?)
Barbour never made it terribly clear why he continued to get paid by BGR while he was in office (he called it, at times "retirement" although BGR had no compatible retirement program anyone was aware of, and it was otherwise referred to as "profit sharing"), particularly given that BGR was lobbying in the state, after Katrina, and representing casino interests.
From our story http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2007/sep/12/haleys-shadow-money//">Haley's Shadow Money in 2007, during his re-election campaign:
Barbour's attorney, Ed Brunini, insists that Barbour has done nothing illegal under state law. But Mississippi ethics law is very weak. Ethics experts interviewed by Bloomberg said that if Barbour has nothing to hide, he should honor the spirit of public accountability and offer full disclosure. But Barbour resists even making his tax returns public since he's been governor—which runs counter to the actions of former governors. The Mississippi Ethics Commission said it cannot tell if the governor has any conflict of interest with his position as governor because they don't have enough information to make an evaluation. "We're not making up that answer," Ethics Commission Director Tom Hood told the Jackson Free Press.
The whole story is great reading. But whatever other conclusions you draw from it, it does remind us of the answer that Barbour himself gave to the same question in 2007; it was, essentially: I won't.