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Scott Brown makes Romney's life more complicated

Associated Press

Sen. Scott Brown (R) seems to believe Elizabeth Warren's personal finances are of the utmost importance in this year's Senate race in Massachusetts. To that end, the Republican is releasing his tax returns for the last six years, and wants his Democratic challenger to do the same. That wouldn't be especially noteworthy were it not for the larger context.

[Scott Brown's] campaign argues that the public deserves to see numerous years.

"The tax years you are attempting to conceal contain important and potentially revealing information," Browns' campaign manager, Jim Barnett, wrote in a letter today to Warren, his Democratic challenger.

He also accused Warren of "political gamesmanship" on the issue, and said Brown would release six years worth of his tax returns on Friday.

Why should anyone outside Massachusetts care? Because it turns out, the Republican senator's top political advisers are the same people advising Mitt Romney, who's trying to keep his tax returns secret.

In other words, the same campaign strategists telling Brown to push for more disclosure are also telling Romney to push for less disclosure. Eric Fehrnstrom, who advises both Romney and Brown, believes it's wrong if Elizabeth Warren releases only two years of tax documents, but also believes it's perfectly acceptable if Romney does the same thing.

Asked to explain the disconnect, "neither Fehrnstrom nor a Romney campaign spokeswoman immediately responded to a request for comment."

Brown's strategy certainly makes sense for his campaign, but it makes Romney's life more complicated. After all, the former governor turned over 23 years worth of tax returns to John McCain in 2008, but now wants to keep those same materials from the public. Why? They won't say.

For what it's worth, American Bridge 21st Century's Rodell Mollineau recently published a detailed memo, noting the 12 things Americans could learn from Romney's returns, if he discovers the benefits of disclosure. It's not a short list, reinforcing the significance of the issue.

President Obama and Vice President Biden have already put 12 years worth of returns online, available for public scrutiny.