Democratic congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald is challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to release copies of his federal income tax returns for public review.
"This tax week, millions of Floridians are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes, and they expect their Member of Congress to do the same," Fitzgerald's campaign said in a news release announcing a conference call for later Thursday. "Suncoast residents deserve full transparency from Vern Buchanan and ought to know where and how, the member of the chief tax writing committee in Congress, earns his income."
“With all the serious issues facing our nation, is this the best Fitzgerald has to offer?" said campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts. "He needs to stop taking orders from Nancy Pelosi and start focusing on the issues our families care about – creating jobs, lowering gas prices and strengthening the economy.”
The returns might provide details of Buchanan's exact worth. According to disclosure reports members of Congress do file that list their holdings and liabilities in broad ranges, Buchanan is one of the wealthier members of Congress.
In making the demand, Fitzgerald is again demonstrating he will make the ethical clouds hanging over Buchanan a major theme of his campaign. The campaign today made Fitzgerald's tax returns available on its website.
"According to the New York Times, Buchanan is reportedly under investigation by the IRS and has a history of failing to disclose his financial interests. Recently, House Congressional Ethics investigators found there was a “substantial reason to believe” that Buchanan broke federal law by failing to report more than $14,000 in income over four years," the news release states
The House Ethics Committee currently is reviewing whether to start a full investigation of Buchanan.
So far, there has been no response from Buchanan's campaign to Fitzgerald's challenge.