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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Senate: Long bids G'brand release tax returns, balks on Romney

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) should release her income tax returns for the past five years -- but said she's not sure if presumed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney should, too.

Long, a Manhattan attorney who won the GOP nomination a month ago, first made the demand in April, echoing the Republican line of attack on Gillibrand in her first run for office in 2006.

Asked about it during a stop in Washington on Thursday, Long repeated her call. "You should release your tax returns for the time you've been in public service," Long said.

Gillibrand is "prepared" to release her tax returns, spokesman Glen Caplin said, but would not say when she would. Caplin called Long's demand "laughable" because Long has yet to make public or post on her website her own personal financial statement or her campaign fund's filings.

Long said she'd release her tax returns if Gillibrand did. "I don't want to hold someone to a different standard," she said.

Yet Long balked when asked about Romney, her party's standard-bearer who posted his 2010 return but faces pressure from Democrats and Republicans to release more.

"I haven't followed the Romney thing in great detail," Long said Thursday.

In a statement Friday, she said, "Governor Romney has to run his campaign his way and I have to run mine my way."

Most presidential candidates post their tax returns -- President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has done so every year, providing the filings back to 2000 -- and Romney's refusal to release more has become a big issue.

But the practice is rare in Congress. Tax returns aren't made public by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) or most members of Congress from New York -- except Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), who released his in 2009.

"Every major elected official should be expected to release their tax returns for at least a couple of years," said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a nonprofit watchdog group.

"Tax returns will reflect the candidates' business activities," he said, and whether they pay appropriate taxes or have conflicts.

Gillibrand refused to release her returns in her successful 2006 race for the U.S. House.

But after being appointed to the Senate in 2009, she allowed reporters three hours to view three years of returns, but didn't post them or hand them out.

Caplin, the senator's spokesman, called Gillibrand "the leading champion for transparency and accountability in Congress." He said she sponsored the law banning lawmakers' insider trading, and voluntarily posts on her website her personal financial statement, daily schedule and requests for federal earmarks.

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