Senate Democrats Press Candidate ‘Tax Havens’ Disclosure

The U.S. Senate’s second-ranking Democrat said he will seek a vote on a proposal to require federal candidates to disclose financial interests in what he called overseas tax havens.

Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, told reporters today he will use the first opportunity to offer his proposal as an amendment to legislation on the Senate floor. Democrats have accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of hiding money in offshore accounts, and Durbin said Romney’s candidacy showed the need for action on his proposal.

“My research suggests that Mitt Romney is the first presidential candidate in American history with a Swiss bank account,” Durbin said. “He has an obligation to explain why he and his family decided that offshore tax havens were the right place to park their money and their wealth.”

Romney released tax returns Jan. 24 that showed he and his wife hold investments in the Cayman Islands and had a Swiss bank account.

Durbin’s bill would require congressional and presidential candidates and officeholders to report on their annual disclosure forms any financial interest they or their spouse has in a country the U.S. Treasury Department deems a tax haven.

The legislation requires the Treasury Department to create a list of tax havens, based in part on its previous assertions in court proceedings.

Romney’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

‘Messaging Machine’

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, today accused Democrats of using the chamber as “a messaging machine.”

“There are a vast majority of senators of both parties who would like to become relevant, who would like to participate in the legislative process, who would like to do the basic work of government,” McConnell said.

The Senate this week is considering a proposal to bolster Democrats’ criticism of Romney. The measure would give companies a 20 percent tax credit for the cost of moving jobs and investment to the U.S. from overseas and deny companies a deduction for the expense of moving investment out of the U.S. The Senate plans to hold a procedural vote tomorrow on the bill.

Democrats maintain that Romney, as co-founder and chief executive officer of the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, supported sending jobs overseas. Romney disputes that claim.

Obama’s campaign released a television ad July 14 accusing Romney of “outsourcing” jobs and stashing his money in offshore accounts. The ad, set to Romney singing “America the Beautiful,” is scheduled to air in nine battleground states.

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