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Erik Paulsen voted to keep Trump’s tax returns a secret

Rep. Erik Paulsen, pictured here with Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, voted last month to keep those pesky Trump tax records a secret.

Rep. Erik Paulsen, pictured here with Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, voted last month to keep those pesky Trump tax records a secret. Star Tribune

Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is paddling toward reclaiming his seat as quickly as he can, in part by promising to “stand up to” his party “and President [Donald] Trump” if push comes to shove.

Well, last month, he had his chance. He did not take it.

At issue were Trump’s tax returns, which have remained secret and are now back in the limelight. After 18 months of trawling through the Trump family’s financial dirty laundry, The New York Times published a scathing report accusing the sitting president of “dubious tax schemes” and “outright fraud,” helping his parents sidestep taxes, and undervaluing that money so he could siphon as much as possible to himself and his siblings.

A Trump lawyer has called these allegations “100 percent false.” Trump himself described the story as “a very old, boring and often told hit piece.”

The only way to say for sure who’s right would be to see those tax returns for ourselves. And last month, the House Ways and Means Committee -- the House’s head honchos when it comes to taxation -- took it upon itself to decide whether we should have the privilege.

It began as a discussion on Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. The committee was deliberating as to whether or not to make them permanent. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, suggested an amendment to leave the bill’s fate up to one condition: Trump’s tax returns being disclosed.

It was shot down on party lines: 21 to 15. Paulsen was among those 21. He was also among the 229 House Republicans who voted down releasing Trump’s tax returns last February. He didn’t respond to interview requests.

Paulsen previously told MPR he and the Ways and Means Committee is refusing to delve into Trump’s taxes because the committee has “never in its history been in the business of targeting an individual American’s tax returns.”

But Paulsen, who has voted in lockstep with Trump 98 percent of the time, continued: “Members of Congress have to release publicly their investments, presidents should do the same thing. I do think concerns are appropriate…”

Yes, he said, it’s appropriate to be concerned. And ideally, “investigative committees” such as the FBI should be looking into that and making sure the truth comes out. You know, “appropriate channels.”

Just not him.