Politico Tax Info Request A Threat? Some Senate Press Offices Think So.

Earlier this week, Politico sent an email to all Senate press offices requesting personal tax information from each Senator. The email says that Politico will use the information for a database they plan to construct and write about.

An FBDC source says “the e-mail has created a raging controversy among the Senate press offices over whether to respond or not. Many staffers believe it is meant to intimidate each office into complying.”

The request states that Politico will report “whether people didn’t respond” and links to a story that features Maria Cantwell and leads with the fact that she didn’t respond to personal questions about her mortgage.

So what is Politico’s point of linking to the Cantwell article?

FBDC’s source says that even Senate press offices that don’t want to give in to Politico’s tactics will feel compelled to comply if all the other offices go along with the request.

Those opposed, say that Senators already comply with financial disclosure requirements under the law and think that Politico shouldn’t expand those requirements. But mostly, they resent what they say is an “implicit threat.”

FBDC asked Politico for response. In an email from Tim Grieve, Politico’s congressional bureau chief, we were told “we don’t comment on stories we may be pursuing.”

See the email that caused all of the controversy after the jump.

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 10:12 AM
Subject: Tax Story

Hey XXX,

We’re doing a story about how all 100 senators prepare their taxes, and we’re putting together a chart of how everyone responded and whether people didn’t respond. My editors want to start posting answers this weekend, so we’d like answers by end of the day Friday, if possible.

You may recall that we did something similar last year in asking all 100 senators about their mortgages. Here’s just one story from that series. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/11353.html

Thanks for your help, I appreciate it. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Here are the questions:

1. Do you prepare your own taxes?
2. If not, who does?
3. Have you or the IRS ever discovered an error on a tax return you’ve filed?
4. Have you ever paid back taxes?
5. If the answer to either 3 or 4 is yes, please explain.