First District Republican Rep. Raul Labrador has a 17-to-1 fundraising advantage over Democrat Jimmy Farris and has steadfastly ignored Farris' attempt to engage in a back-and-forth that would raise Farris' name ID.
But Farris' gambit to release his tax returns has gotten some traction. Labrador was dogged by questions about his finances during appearances in Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday. Farris has used the occasion to accuse Labrador of being out of touch with ordinary Idahoans, a common tactic for outsider challengers like Farris, a retired NFL player.
"I don't think it's valuable," Labrador said.
Labrador noted he files a legally mandated personal finance disclosure statement annually.
"You'll know that I'm one of the poorest guys in Congress," he told the Press. "I think at some point you have to decide that you need to have a little bit of privacy."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Labrador's net worth ranks 617th of 641 members of Congress. The nonpartisan group says Labrador's reports show an estimated net worth between a maximum of $67,000 and a minimum of minus $131,000,
Labrador is a lawyer, whose Treasure Valley practice centered on immigration law.
The Press reported that Labrador got another question about his personal finances at a Tuesday evening event from Steve George of Spirit Lake, who noted that Labrador's $174,000 congressional salary is several times what George makes.
Replied Labrador: "What you just did and what you're all doing is holding me accountable....What I need you to do is hold me accountable, and make sure I'm doing everything that's necessary to protect this country."
Farris seized on Labrador's comments, issuing a press release Wednesday critiquing the notion that Labrador is "poor" and renewing his call for Labrador to release his tax returns.
"If he considers that ‘poor’, he is hopelessly out of touch with the struggles of average Idahoans," Farris said.
Added Farris: "If he has nothing to hide, why won’t he release his returns? It’s not up to him to decide whether or not it is ‘valuable’ to share his tax information with the public. If privacy is so important to him, I’ll be happy to send him back to the private sector in November.”
In reply to my request for comment on the latest from Farris, Labrador Campaign Manager China Gum toed the campaign's line, saying in an email, "No comment."
To date, the campaign has simply ignored Farris' attempt to boost his campaign in the "free media." Labrador raised $628,000 through June 30, Farris just $37,000.
Wednesday's press release from Farris follows:
MERIDIAN, Idaho- A $174,000 per year salary is “poor” person’s wages, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador said Tuesday. And, since his salary is such a pittance, he refused to hold himself accountable by releasing his tax returns so people know where else he gets his money.
During a meeting in Coeur d’Alene (read the Coeur d’Alene Press article here), Labrador said he would not release his tax returns because “I don’t think it’s valuable.” He added, “You’ll know that I’m one of the poorest guys in Congress. I think at some point you have to decide that you need to have a little bit of privacy.”
1st Congressional District candidate Jimmy Farris noted that his remarks prove that Labrador either has little understanding of or little compassion for Idaho families who work hard to provide for their futures.
“Congressman Labrador’s salary is four times that of the average Idaho family,” 1st CD candidate Jimmy Farris said. “He earns $174,000 a year working in Congress. If he considers that ‘poor’, he is hopelessly out of touch with the struggles of average Idahoans.”
At a press conference last Thursday, Farris announced the release of ten years of his tax returns to the public (read the Spokesman-Review article about this here) and called on Labrador to also share his tax information. Until last night, Labrador had refused to comment.
“Congressman Labrador is a public servant,” Farris said. “He owes it to his constituents to be completely honest and transparent. If he has nothing to hide, why won’t he release his returns? It’s not up to him to decide whether or not it is ‘valuable’ to share his tax information with the public. If privacy is so important to him, I’ll be happy to send him back to the private sector in November.”
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