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GOP Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush Releases Tax Returns


Many of the men and women running for president have been trying to show they have nothing to hide. Republican Jeb Bush has gone to some lengths on the matter of transparency. Earlier this year, Bush released his official emails from his time as governor of Florida. And yesterday, he opened the books on his personal finances with the release of tax returns for 33 years, all the way up until 2013. NPR's Peter Overby has been looking into them.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Bush posted all of those returns on his campaign website. It's the biggest number ever released by a presidential candidate. He also posted the campaign's narrative of how the numbers on the returns reflect his life. What they show is an early adulthood of ups and downs. Jeb Bush was entrepreneurial, but he never scored any breakthrough business deals, not like his father and older brother, the two former Presidents Bush. Then Jeb Bush was elected governor of Florida - twice. And when he left office, his wealth began to grow. For the first time, he was routinely earning more than a million dollars a year. Between 2007 and 2013, he reported total income of $29 million. The sources - business deals, investments and paid speeches. Republican consultant Ron Bonjean said Bush has a strategy in making this disclosure.

RON BONJEAN: What he's doing is getting the news out early enough so that there isn't a drip, drip, drip, of fact regarding any of his financial information.

OVERBY: The campaign has already vetted the returns and so even if something damaging slips by...

BONJEAN: They get the stories out of the way early regarding how much money he's made and what he's been doing in the private sector and they'll be able to focus then on the issues.

OVERBY: The sheer number of returns puts the squeeze on Bush's Republican rivals. Some of them have already put out their own returns, but not Bush's toughest opponents right now - Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bush's fellow Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio. But Bush also seems to be upping the pressure on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Again, consultant Ron Bonjean.

BONJEAN: You know, demanding to see her tax returns sooner rather than later puts her in a little bit of a bind because she has had problems over disclosure issues.

OVERBY: Bill and Hillary Clinton have already released their 2014 tax returns. But Hillary Clinton's political operation has been navigating calls for transparency on her activities with the Clinton Foundation, especially when she was secretary of state. And there's been a long court fight over disclosure of emails written by Clinton and her aides at the State Department. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.

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