Obama releases tax returns, says Clinton should too

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama released seven years of tax returns on Tuesday, cranking up the pressure on presidential rival Hillary Clinton to make public her recent filings and renewing a battle between the two camps over transparency.

Obama’s tax returns from 2000 to 2006 were posted on his Web site as his campaign pushed to portray Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, as secretive and unwilling to be open with voters.

Obama, an Illinois senator, has repeatedly asked Clinton to release tax returns for the years since she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, left the White House in 2001.

“Releasing tax returns is a matter of routine. We believe the Clinton campaign should meet that routine standard and meet that routine standard now,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Clinton, in Pennsylvania campaigning for the state’s primary on April 22, told reporters she hoped her returns would be released within the next week. But she and campaign aides pressed Obama to release records from his days in the Illinois legislature and his earlier tax returns.

“I am pleased that Senator Obama has released his tax returns. I think that’s a good first step,” Clinton said in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. “Now he should release his records from being in the state Senate and any other information that the public and the press need to know.”

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said she already had released more than 20 years of tax returns and hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from the White House.

Obama and Clinton are in a hard-fought battle for the Democratic presidential nomination and the right to face Republican John McCain in November’s election.

Presidential candidates often release their tax returns, although they are not required to do so, but Clinton’s failure to release her returns since 2001 had become a target of increased criticism from Obama’s camp.

As senators, Obama and Clinton are both required only to file disclosure statements that give a wide range of income and provide few details on finances and holdings.

The newly released tax returns show Obama’s income with wife Michelle jumped in 2005 with the re-release of his first book “Dreams from My Father,” which brought him $1.2 million, and in 2006 when his second book “The Audacity of Hope” earned more than $500,000.

Their income rose dramatically with the book sales. From 2000 to 2004 their income ranged from just more than $207,000 to more than $275,000. In 2005 their joint income was more than $1.6 million and in 2006 it was nearly $1 million.

Obama’s campaign said Clinton’s tax records were important because of questions about her $5 million loan in January to her campaign and about Bill Clinton’s income from an investment company -- headed by donor Ron Burkle -- that invests in tax shelters.

“Senator Clinton can’t claim to be vetted until she allows the public the opportunity to see her finances -- particularly with respect to any investment in tax shelters,” Gibbs said in a statement.

(Editing by David Wiessler)

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