GOP Congressman to Trump: Release Your Tax Returns

South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford pens op-ed in The New York Times

South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford said he supports Trump, but "my ability to continue to do so will in part be driven by whether Mr. Trump keeps his word that he will release his tax records." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Mark Sanford is calling on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to "keep his word" and release his tax returns, echoing a Democratic critique on the campaign trail.

The South Carolina congressman wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that while he intends to support Trump, his "ability to continue to do so will in part be driven by whether Mr. Trump keeps his word that he will release his tax records."

Sanford argued that Trump not releasing his tax returns would set an unwelcome precedent for future candidates up and down the ballot.

[Big Donor Offers Big Money to Trump If He Releases Taxes]

"I suggest this not as a partisan against Mr. Trump. I am a conservative Republican who, though I have no stomach for his personal style and his penchant for regularly demeaning others, intends to support my party’s nominee because of the importance of filling the existing vacancy on the Supreme Court, and others that might open in the next four years," Sanford wrote.

Sanford also cited past statements where Trump said he would disclose his tax returns, which would show his true income, if he ran for president. The GOP nominee has declined to do so, citing an ongoing audit. 

Democrats, particularly the party's presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, have chided Trump over the decision. They allege that the returns would show that the real estate mogul is not as wealthy as he claims.

A recent Clinton campaign ad showed other Republicans discussing Trump's financial statements. The ad was titled, "What is Donald Trump hiding in his tax returns?"

Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, released their tax returns over the weekend. Clinton's documents showed an income of more than $10 million for her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in 2015.

Sanford wrote in his op-ed that he plans to support Trump, but he originally backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president. Sanford was first elected to his 1st District seat in 1995 and served three terms. He returned to the House in 2013. In between, he served as South Carolina's governor from 2003 to 2011, a tenure that was also stained by the revelation that Sanford had an extramarital affair. 

But not all House Republicans agree with Sanford that Trump should disclose the financial documents.

"I just think the window for that has passed," conservative Iowa Rep. Steve King said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" when asked about Trump's tax returns. "For him to release them is just a forgone conclusion. Donald Trump will not release his tax returns. … I think that would be the only discussion we would hear all the way until November."

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc.

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