President Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign released a new television ad this afternoon that links Mitt Romney to the Son Of BOSS tax shelter scandal.
The ad, “Son of Boss,” pivots off of a new CNN op-ed from tax lawyer Peter C. Canellos and tax expert Edward D. Kleinbard, which raises questions about Romney’s involvement in, and awareness of, Marriott International’s use of Son of Boss tax shelters as a member of the hotel conglomerate’s board of directors during the 1990s.
As the op-ed points out, Romney is close personal friends with the Marriott family, and joined the Marriott board of directors in 1993. He served as the board’s chairman of the audit committee from 1993 until 1998, the same time period in which Marriott used the “Son of BOSS,” tax shelter, a transaction that was later labeled “abusive” by the IRS. According to Canellos and Kleinbard, Romney, as audit chair, would have been required to approve this transaction.
The new Obama campaign ad attempts to this alleged involvement into Romney’s refusal to release his federal income tax returns, suggesting that the returns would show Romney was similarly willing to use tax shelters in to boost his personal finances.
“Did Romney pay 10% in taxes? 5%? Zero? We don’t know,” the narrator says. “But we do know that Romney personally approved over $70 million in fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious ‘Son of Boss’ tax scandal. One of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history.”
“Isn’t it time for Romney to come clean?” he concludes.
The ad will air in Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina next week, during Romney’s campaign bus tour through those states.
Watch the video below:
Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg emails this response:
“President Obama’s campaign has been caught lying about its knowledge concerning a vicious smear run by his Super PAC. And now, they have doubled down with another dishonorable and dishonest attack. In 2008, candidate Obama said ‘you make a big election about small things’ when you don’t have a record to run on. Since President Obama can’t run on record unemployment, falling incomes, and massive debt, he has decided to run a dirty campaign that is an affront to everything he claims to stand for.”
The campaign has not yet responded to our question about whether Romney approved the Son of Boss transaction while serving on Marriott’s board of directors.