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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) inserted himself squarely in the middle of the Presidential campaign when he apparently told a reporter than Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney should release more tax returns. The Governor has since released a prepared statement saying that his comments were “taken out of context.”
Governor Bentley said, “I believe my comments were taken out of context, they were not reported in their entirety, and I want to make sure the record is set straight. I believe in transparency, and that was the basis for my answer. I personally choose to release my own returns each year, and there was no effort to imply that Mr. Romney has anything to hide.”
The Governor of Alabama said, “While I believe in total transparency, I also believe much of the rhetoric surrounding Mitt Romney’s personal finances is nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to distract from the real issues of the presidential campaign. The real issues are the economy, employment, and getting America back on the right track. I fully support Mitt Romney and his vision for our country, and I will do everything I can to help get him elected.”
ABC News is claiming that Governor Bentley told them in an interview at the National Governors Association Conference: “In fact, I was asked today that question – do you think that Governor Romney should release his tax returns? And I said I do. I said, I release my tax returns. I may be the only public official in Alabama that does, but I release mine every year and I just believe that people should release their tax returns. And if you get them out and just get past that, it just makes it so much easier.”
According to ABC News, Bentley warned that failure to release the tax returns would “cause distractions away from the real issue in this campaign and that’s the economy.” “They’re doing everything they can to hurt Governor Romney and tax returns will be one of those things,” Bentley said. “So the best thing to do is just get everything out in the open and just say, ‘hey I have nothing to hide and I’m going to release my tax returns.’” “I think that it’s always easier just to say, hey I’m releasing everything, and just get it out there and then get past it.”
Governor Bentley voted for former PA Senator Rick Santorum over Gov. Romney in Alabama’s presidential primary.
According to reporting by ABC News Obama campaign spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith said: “We agree with Governor Bentley – Mitt Romney should exhibit total transparency and release his tax returns. That’s the only way the American people will learn about his motivations on critical policy matters and whether he invested in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes or hedge against the dollar.”
Governor Romney has released his 2011 tax returns but has resisted calls from the Obama campaign to release more years of tax returns.