Idaho 1st District Congressional candidate Jimmy Farris released 10 years of his income tax returns today, and called on incumbent Congressman Raul Labrador to do the same. Labrador immediately rebuffed the request. "He just said, 'No comment,'" said Labrador's campaign spokeswoman, China Gum.
Farris, at a news conference in downtown Meridian, declared, "In the spirit of George Romney and Frank Church, I think it's important that our elected officials show the utmost amount of transparency." Romney, father of current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, famously released 12 years of his tax returns when he was running for president in 1967.
Longtime Idaho Sen. Frank Church released his tax returns not only when he ran for president in 1976, but throughout his many years in the Senate. His widow, Bethine Church, recalled Thursday, "His colleagues got sort of mad at him over it, because it put the pressure on them. ... He just thought it was fair that people know where his money was coming from. ... He said it was important to have his integrity."
Farris, a former NFL football player and Lewiston native, released tax returns from 2001 to 2010 that cover the entire arc of his professional football career, from his rookie year with the New England Patriots in 2001 when his wages were $70,020, to his peak earning year with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, when he earned more than $350,000. A Spokesman-Review analysis of his returns shows he paid more than $73,000 in taxes in 2004, 21 percent of his earnings that year, and donated $62,443 to charity, nearly 18 percent of his income.
Over the 10 years, the analysis showed, he donated $204,526 to charity, mainly through church programs; in 2006, he gave nearly a quarter of his income to charity.
"One of the reasons why I'm running is because of the importance of giving back and paying it forward and doing what I can to help people," Farris said. "One of the things you'll see in my tax returns is a significant amount of charitable contributions that I've made. They are in line with what I've said before, that I really, really value helping out and giving a hand to people." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.