Idaho's 1st District Democratic nominee Jimmy Farris said Thursday that "transparency in our elected officials is of the utmost importance" and released a decade of federal tax returns. (Farris' campaign provided copies of the 10 returns Thursday afternoon. But at 8 p.m. Farris called to say the blackouts of his Social Security number weren't thorough. He was right, the number was visible when enlarged. We have taken the links to all 10 returns down. We will repost them after Farris provides replacements).
Farris said he was doing so in the spirit of former GOP presidential candidate George Romney and former U.S. Senator Frank Church, D-Idaho, who made similar disclosures. The issue of releasing more than two years of returns has become an issue in the presidential race; GOP nominee Mitt Romney has resisted pressure to do more, though his father, George, released a dozen years of returns in 1968.
"I want to make those available for anyone who wants to take a look," Farris said in a speech prepared for a news conference at Meridian's Generations Plaza. Farris gave over $200,000 to churches and other charities during his high-income years as a player in the National Football League.
GOP Congressman Raul Labrador declined to release his returns, or to comment, a practice he's followed through the campaign. Said his campaign manager, China Gum: "We will not be responding on this issue."
Though Labrador didn't respond, Farris' news conference was attended by reporters. In addition to being ignored by his opponent, Farris is well
behind in fundraising, having collected about $37,000 through June 30, compared to Labrador's $628,000.
"It's a way for him to get publicity," said Jim Weatherby, emeritus professor of public policy at Boise State University. "Certainly, he needs ways to get his name and candidacy out there."
Weatherby said the gambit would have been more successful had it drawn Labrador out of his Rose Garden strategy. Labrador, like the rest of the all-GOP Idaho congressional delegation, earlier declined a request for his tax returns from McClatchy, the parent company of the Idaho Statesman.
The tax returns show Farris made an excellent living between 2001 and 2007, when he played in the NFL. One of Idaho's greatest high school football players at Lewiston High School, Farris was an All American at the University of Montana.
His adjusted gross income for those seven tax years totaled about $1.4 million, averaging about $196,000 a year while he played for the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. His peak income was 2004, when his AGI was $356,000. Farris paid about $240,000 in taxes during those seven years.
Since his retirement from football, Farris' financial fortunes have declined substantially. He made about $75,000 a year in 2008 and 2009, but dropped to $11,000 in 2011 and $7,300 in 2011. (Farris did not provide a copy of his 2011 return, saying he was a victim of identity theft when someone filed a return using his Social Security number. Farris's campaign manager supplied the income figure for 2011, saying Farris paid no tax last year.)
Farris also told reporters that Labrador has failed to keep his promise to fundamentally change Washington, D.C. Farris noted that during Labrador's freshman term the U.S. received its first credit downgrade and increased national debt by more than $2 trillion, while congressional Republicans were "dysfunctional."
"The way business is done in Washington has definitely changed since Raul Labrador got there," Farris said. "And it's overwhelmingly for the worse."
Farris also cited Labrador's votes to cut funding at the Idaho National Lab, oppose funding Craig-Wyden funding for rural forest counties and increase interest rates on college students.
"It's clear that Raul Labrador's agenda is not to do what's in the best interests of all Idahoans," Farris said. "He repeatedly does what he has to do to ensure his own political gain, forgetting about the needs of Idahoans."
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