Mike Pence releases his tax returns: Does that divide Trump’s campaign?

In the world of partisan politics, a presidential candidate and their running mate are rarely at odds publicly. But Donald Trump and Mike Pence seem to be at odds more often than the typical ticket pair. 

(AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his wife Karen take the stage prior to his speaking at the Value Voters Summit in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016.

With election day less than two months away, voters still don’t know the specifics of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s tax returns. But now, they can get more information on Mr. Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

The Indiana governor released tax returns that span the past decade Friday, showing his tax rate was between the 10 and 16 percent rate during that time. At his peak pay rate, Mr. Pence was pulling in $187,000 as a member of Congress, but last year he made $113,000.

“The Pence family has been honored to serve their state and their nation for the past 16 years, while raising three great children and putting them through college,” Marc Lotter, Pence’s spokesman, said in a statement when releasing the returns. “These tax returns clearly show that Mike and Karen Pence have paid their taxes, supported worthy causes, and, unlike the Clintons, the Pences have not profited from their years in public service.”

In 2013, while Pence was in Congress, he had a net worth of around $300,000 – a modest number compared to the congressional average of $5 million, and a far less than Trump’s estimated $3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Trump has said he's worth more than $10 billion.

But the differences between Trump and Pence don’t stop at the number of zeros in their net worth: While Trump has balked at some traditional campaign norms and excelled at controversial statements, Pence seems to take the more practiced route to his public statements and followed in the footsteps of prior candidates.

Trump has delayed or refused the release of his own returns since he was asked at the first Republican primary debate more than a year ago if he would make the documents public. He’s cited an ongoing IRS audit as a reason to withhold the paperwork – even though there is no rule or law preventing someone from making returns under audit public – and also said he would release the returns if his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton did the same with the emails she hosted on a private server while secretary of State.

Other topics on which the two have clashed recently include President Barack Obama's birthplace (Trump maintains Mr. Obama was born in Kenya, while Pence acknowledged last week that the president was in fact born in Hawaii), the role Russia should play in exposing Mrs. Clinton’s emails (Trump previously said he hoped Russia had hacked Clinton’s private server emails, while Pence said there would be a bipartisan response from the US if Russia interfered with security), and hesitating to endorse Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for a re-election.

While some hoped Pence would be the balance the Trump campaign needed to increase its appeal, Trump has shown a tendency to employ the tactics that won him the nomination and that pitted him against the establishment of the Republican Party throughout his primary campaign.

As for the tax returns, Trump supported Pence’s move, and plans to release his own once his audit is completed, according to Mr. Lotter.

When asked about the release of Pence’s returns, Clinton’s campaign, which disclosed her tax records last July and has speculated that Trump must be hiding something in his undisclosed returns, emphasized that it’s Trump himself, not Pence, running for the top job.

“We’re pleased to see that one member of the Trump ticket has decided to meet the long-held threshold for disclosure in a modern-day presidential campaign,” Christina Reynolds, the Clinton campaign’s deputy communications director, told the Associated Press. “But it’s Donald Trump — who just this week attacked America’s generals and showered praise on Russia’s authoritarian leader — running to be our next president.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. 

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