If Donald Trump Discloses His Tax Returns, This Campaign Will Donate Millions To The Veterans He Claims To Care About
In late September, a U.S. Marine combat veteran named Peter Kiernan created a crowdsourced campaign to encourage Donald Trump to release his tax returns. In exchange for the release of Trump's tax returns, Kiernan will donate any money collected to 10 organizations that benefit U.S. war veterans. More recently, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman has offered to donate an additional $5 million to the campaign for veterans if Trump releases his tax returns before the final presidential debate on Oct. 19. As of Wednesday, the campaign has raised $6,233,489 of its $8 million goal, and people are still regularly making contributions every few minutes.
On the crowdfunding site, Kiernan explained his reasoning behind creating the campaign, making the point that Trump refuses to provide the standard of transparency that service members uphold daily. He wrote:
Any service member who has ever held a security clearance has been subjected to a rigorous background check, including personal finances, affiliations, and drug activity, all for good reason. The nation entrusts its defense to this small group of talented and determined patriots, in return for this responsibility the nation asks for honesty and integrity. I believe that to be the Commander-in-Chief of this group, you should be held to the same standards.
Linking the release of Trump's tax returns to monetary benefits for veterans' groups is a particularly ingenious move by Kiernan. Throughout his campaign, Trump has claimed to be highly supportive of veterans, even featuring a 10-point plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs on his campaign website. However, if Trump refuses to release his returns, prominent veterans groups will lose out on millions of dollars. So, perhaps Trump isn't as supportive of veterans as he claims to be.
Ironically, this campaign seems to be taken directly from Trump's own playbook. In 2012, Trump offered to donate $5 million to the charity of Barack Obama's choice if he released his passport, college transcripts, and several other documents. Interestingly, Trump has also refused to release these same documents in addition to his tax returns, going against his own word about the importance of knowing information about a president or potential president.
If Trump refuses to release his tax returns, he should be held accountable for this decision at the final presidential debate. He should have to address not only why he is directly countering his own words on the importance of presidential transparency, but also why he is cheating veterans' groups out of "easy money" by not releasing his returns — the very veterans groups he claims to care so much about.