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Friday, November 01, 2013

"Hunt" for the source

Writing remains an unpleasant task today, because my ISP's tower is still down, which means that all my internettin' is being done away from home. But I did want acknowledge the latest development in a story that appeared in these pages during the wilder, more heated days of the 2012 campaign.

As you will recall, Mitt Romney refused for the longest time to divulge his taxes. There was a big stink about that. The stink became stinkier when fellow Mormon Harry Reid said that an excellent source -- a Bain investor -- had told him that Romney had not paid taxes for ten years.

This claim set off a great game of speculation. Who was Reid's source?

For the right-wingers, of course, the answer was clear: Reid made it up! All DemoncRats are liars! I wanna see Reid's birth certificate! He's a Mooooooslim!

But I've always felt that Reid did indeed have a source who told him these things. After all, concocting a story out of whole cloth requires imagination. When was the last time Harry Reid showed any?

I even named one possible source: Jon Huntsman.

There were good reasons to consider him a leading suspect. He's a fellow Mormon. He's a Bain investor, through his father's holdings. He fell out with Romney. He likes Reid. And his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., had a partnership with Robert C. Gay, the managing director of Bain -- a possible source of inside information.

No less a personage than Markos Moulitsas picked up on my suggestion and offered an improved variation: He pointed the finger at Jon Huntsman Sr. himself.

The Moulitsas piece gained a wide audience. A lot of people thought that Moulitsas was onto something -- until the elder Hunstman offered a stern denial.

That denial seemed to settle the matter. Because I had more or less started this ball rolling, I felt obliged to write a letter of apology to Abby Huntsman, which I asked her to pass along to her father and grandfather. She was very gracious.

And now we learn that Jon Huntsman Sr. really was the source after all! Such, at least, is the claim made in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Double Down, a book about the 2012 contest.

But...wait. The elder Huntsman quickly denied this book's claim.
"It’s so ridiculous that people associate my name with Mitt Romney’s tax returns, like I would have interest in it or know about it," Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune. "These fellows who wrote this book, they dwell on falsehoods and false rumors. They’re nothing but supermarket, tabloid trash. They ought to be ashamed of themselves."
At this point, I would like to accuse Abby Huntsman of being Reid's source.

I don't have any particular reason for doing so. There's no evidence against her. Frankly, I think she's a wonderful person. But many Americans seem to like the idea of the Huntsman family being somehow involved in this tale, probably because there's something intriguing about the notion of warring Mormon clans. So I've decided to put a new spin on the original theory.

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