Mitt Romney’s $3 donation to the campaign fund is outside the GOP mainstream

Three Dollars: Mitt Romney’s donation to the presidential election fund

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his tax returns for 2011 Friday, and they show he made a donation to the presidential election fund.

Storified by Digital First Media · Fri, Sep 21 2012 13:19:50

If you file your taxes on your own, you’ve come across the question: “Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?”
Each year, an estimated 33 million taxpayers check the box for “Yes.” The money is then put into a government fund which is distributed to qualified presidential candidates as well as political parties hosting national conventions.

In 2008, Barack Obama broke a campaign pledge and chose not to accept the public funding, which would have amounted to $84 million, so that he could avoid limits on fundraising that came with it. That year, Republican John McCain accepted the funding. 

This year, neither Obama nor Republican Mitt Romney will accept public funding in the general election, the first year since 1972 in which neither major party candidate has done so.
Ironically, both chose to contribute to the fund anyway.
According to his tax returns, Obama and his wife Michelle have checked the box to donate three dollars to the fund nearly every year since 2000. (They did not donate in 2005 and 2006.) That’s a total of $60.
Photo: Barack and Michelle Obama after a Downing Street dinner. Photograph (Steve Parsons/AP)
Mitt and Ann Romney have only released their 2010 and 2011 tax returns, but both show that they also checked the box, for a total of $12.
Photo: Mitt Romney and his wife Ann during a campaign rally at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina, on August 12, 2012. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
That puts the Romneys outside the current Republican mainstream. His running mate, Paul Ryan, didn’t contribute to the fund in either 2010 or 2011. Neither did former primary rival Rick Santorum in any of the returns he released from 2007 to 2010.

Former president George W. Bush didn’t check the box on any of the returns he released from 2000 to 2007, though his father did in 1989, 1990 and 1991 (when it was just $1).

Former president Ronald Reagan checked “no” on his 1985, 1986 and 1987 returns.

Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin also didn’t check the box in her 2006 or 2007 returns.

But there are exceptions.

Former Republican Speaker and 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, checked the box in their publicly released 2010 tax returns.

And both 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a noted campaign finance reformer, checked the box on his publicly released 2006 and 2007 tax returns, as did his wife, Cindy, who filed separately.