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Romney adviser compares Reid’s tax claims to McCarthyism

Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on Thursday blasted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for making “baseless” and “shameless” accusations that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has avoided paying taxes, comparing it to McCarthyism. 

“I’m telling you authoritatively, speaking on the behalf of the governor, that those charges are untrue, they are baseless, and there is nothing to back them up,” Fehrnstrom told “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News.

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Reid earlier this week claimed an investor from Romney’s former private-equity firm Bain Capital called his office to tell the senator that Romney had avoided paying income taxes for a decade. Reid doubled down on the claim Wednesday, but refused to identify his source.

Romney has said he has always paid what he owed in taxes, and on Thursday Fehrnstrom noted that the candidate has addressed the issue of his tax returns multiple times. 

“This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s,” Fehrnstrom said, referring to former Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), who led a controversial search for communist sentiment during the Cold War. “I would ask [Reid] one simple question: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir? Is there nothing that you won’t do to debase yourself and the office you hold in the name of dirty politics?’ ”

President Obama’s campaign and Democrats have pointed to Romney's refusal to release more tax returns as evidence he is running a “secretive” campaign. Romney says the two years of tax returns he has released are sufficient.
 
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also pushed back on Reid’s charge on Thursday, saying “it clearly is not a fact, and I would think that the Senate majority leader would be smart enough to know that."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the accusations "beneath the dignity of [Reid's] office."

“I think the Majority Leader has more important things to do than use the Senate as a forum for his baseless accusations," he told the Daily Caller.

Fehrnstrom said Romney does not immediately plan to address the accusations himself. The presumptive GOP nominee is on the campaign trail in Colorado.

“Mitt Romney has gone above and beyond what the law requires in providing financial disclosure,” Fehrnstrom said. “We’ve published all of that information on our website. It includes hundreds of pages of tax return information. He put out his 2010 return. He is preparing to put out his 2011 return. That is two years' worth of tax information. It is exactly what [Sen.] John McCain [(R-Ariz.)] did when he was a candidate four years ago and this is all part of the Obama campaign’s strategy of distraction. They want to distract people’s attention from what really matters which is the bad state of the economy.”

Updated at 3:25 p.m.