Sen. Franken Quixote – Tilting At Tax Return Windmills

SNL’s Al Franken was among the least comedic and least likable cast members in its long and storied history. Now a political animal, he has managed to turn at least 50% of that around. He is a grossly unlikable comedic caricature of a politician.

Like Don-Quixote of the Mancha tilting at windmills, Sen. Al. Franken D-MN has used every televised committee hearing to pursue his agenda of obtaining President Trump’s tax returns.  This past week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was no different: (Wash Examiner)

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., pushed FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday to investigate President Trump’s unreleased tax returns as part of its probe into whether Russia interfered with the U.S. election, and whether Trump’s team colluded with Russian officials along the way. Franken argued that to understand if Trump was vulnerable to corruption by Russia, “we would have to understand his financial situation. We’d have to know whether or not he has money tied up in Russia or obligations to Russian entities, do you agree? Director Comey, would President Trump’s tax returns be material to such an investigation?” he asked.

Just like the Knight-Errant, he wasn’t fooling anyone but himself:

But Comey refused to answer. “That’s not something, senator, that I’m going to answer,” Comey replied. And when Franken asked if the FBI has access to Trump’s tax returns, Comey said, “I’d have to give you the same answer. “

The Examiner’s conclusion was spot on:

By pressing for the tax returns, Democrats hope to kill two birds with one stone: Finding new avenues for investigation between any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, and potentially finding embarrassing information about how Trump managed his taxes in the years leading up to his election.

Like a dog with a bone, Franken simply won’t let go of this issue. All the while, he is both disingenuous and hypocritical. His hypocrisy is evident because at no time has the good senator from Minnesota uttered one word publicly about fellow Democrat VA Governor Terry McAuliffe releasing only a summary of his pre-gubernatorial tax returns: (Chicago Tribune)

Federal prosecutors are investigating campaign contributions to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and what they consider suspicious personal finances, as part of a public integrity probe that has lasted for more than a year, according to two officials familiar with the inquiry. McAuliffe is a wealthy man — he earned $9.5 million and paid $2.7 million in taxes in 2012, according to a summary of his tax returns released by his gubernatorial campaign. He has dabbled in a variety of business ventures that were sometimes controversial. Federal investigators, for example, probed whether a company he founded known as GreenTech Automotive received preferential treatment from U.S. government officials. McAuliffe resigned as chairman of the company in 2012. (Emphasis mine)

Where he is totally disingenuous is conflating tax returns of private citizens with those of politicians. There is a reason politicians release their tax returns. We, the tax paying public want to know on an on-going basis whether our public servants are acting honestly in their financial affairs. Longtime Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel is a perfect example: (WaPo)

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was until his recent troubles one of the House’s most powerful members, was found guilty Tuesday of breaking 11 separate congressional rules related to his personal finances and his fundraising efforts for a New York college. Those charges pointed to a collection of infractions related to four central elements of the case: that Rangel improperly used his congressional staff and official letterhead to raise seven-figure donations from corporate charities and chief executives for a college wing named in his honor; violated New York City rules by housing his political committees in his rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; did not pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic; and did not properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial assets. This occurred while he served as the ranking Democrat or chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight of tax issues. He resigned as committee chairman in the spring when he was found guilty of a more minor infraction related to accepting corporate-financed travel. (Emphasis mine)

As we all know, President Trump’s entire career has been in the business sector. As such, citizen Trump’s tax returns are private, no different than any other citizen. There is absolutely no chance his tax returns can be tainted by campaign donations, he never ran for office. No chance he traded favors with donors for plane trips, island vacations, home remodeling, etc; there was no campaign to have donors. Likewise, no chance he misled the IRS about his public salary, he was never in the swamp feeding at the public trough.

Where Franken comedically hits the daily double with disingenuous hypocrisy is continuing this charade post-election. The “reveal” of tax returns is a campaign issue, ostensibly allowing voters adequate information to make a reasoned decision. Note to Sen. Quixote: That ship has sailed. The voters have decided, and their decision was made with the full knowledge Candidate Trump did not release his tax returns. Obviously, that wasn’t an issue. President Trump took blue states away from the Democrats like taking candy from a baby.

Democrats (and Sen. McCain-RINO AZ) well know they have a legal avenue to peer into Trump’s financial history. Via subpoena. Convince the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, or the Intelligence Committee investigating all things Russia to issue a subpoena ordering the President to produce his tax returns. But that is a political play which will surely blow up in their face, so they take the cowardly path forward: gripe, bitch and moan. No new legislation requiring tax return production, no subpoenas, just endless talk.

President Trump was under no legal obligation to produce his tax returns prior to the 2016 presidential election. We have no right to see them, no reason to see them, and realistically no chance we ever will. A real politician should counsel Sen. Franken to find another windmill. He’s flogged this one long enough.


About the author

Wm. P. Fitzhenry

5th generation Texan, 2nd generation reformed Presbyterian, a twin and a serial entrepreneur.

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