Gingrich Releases Tax Returns As Debate Begins

Alex Roarty

Did Newt Gingrich release his tax returns right at the start of the CNN debate on Thursday to embarrass Mitt Romney, who hasn’t released his, or to divert attention away from the $3 million-plus he earned in 2010? Either way, he was able to say during the debate that his returns were out.

The former House speaker revealed about $3.1 million earned in income during 2010 alone. Much of that money, the documents indicated, was made by an array of companies Gingrich founded after leaving Congress more than a decade ago.

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Despite releasing his tax returns, it was clear he wasn’t eager for them to draw much attention in doing so just as the debate began. It’s a tactical move that makes some sense as the White House contender courts many of the state’s blue-collar voters, some of whom might be alienated by a millionaire candidate.

Gingrich’s decision comes amid a push from critics, Republican and Democratic alike, that Romney should release his own records. The former Massachusetts governor again indicated he planned to release his tax documents later this year, but already sparked a firestorm of criticism after saying earlier this week he paid an effective 15 percent rate -- lower than many middle-income families -- on much of the money he’s earned.

The ex-Georgia congressman has said he paid an effective rate of 31 percent.

Gingrich’s tax returns show he made roughly $2.5 million from a company called “Gingrich Holdings,” which includes the vast empire of companies he built over the last decade. The groups includes, among other things, a film company and one that handles his speaking engagements.