Started by 26-year-old U.S. Marine veteran Peter James Kiernan, the campaign says it will donate the money raised to ten different veterans organizations if Trump complies with their request by the date of the final debate, Oct. 19.
“Any servicemember who has ever held a security clearance has been subjected to a rigorous background check, including personal finances, affiliations, and drug activity, all for good reason,” Kiernan writes on the crowdfunding page through CrowdPAC.com. “The nation entrusts its defense to this small group of talented and determined patriots, in return for this responsibility the nation asks for honesty and integrity.”
“I believe that to be the Commander-in-Chief of this group, you should be held to the same standards,” Kiernan continues.
On top of the $6 million already raised, LinkedIn founder and billionaire Reid Hoffman has promised to match the amount raised up to $5 million. In a letter written on medium.com, Hoffman says he is helping Kiernan in his campaign to force Trump to put his money where his mouth is when promising to release the records.
Altogether, veterans groups currently stand to gain more than $11 million if Trump releases his tax returns.
Trump’s refusal to release his returns has been an issue looming over his campaign since its inception. Trump is the first candidate since President Richard Nixon to not make the records public, citing an ongoing audit by the IRS for his failure to do so. (The agency has since said that he is free to release his returns, despite the audit.) His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has released her tax returns for the past nine years.
Earlier this month, The New York Times obtained Trump’s tax records from 1995, which seemed to indicate that the mogul may have avoided paying federal taxes for up to 18 years due to a nearly $1 billion loss.
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In some ways, Kiernan’s grassroots campaign is reminiscent of Trump’s own plea for President Barack Obama to release some of his personal records when he was running for re-election in 2012. In a YouTube video, Trump promised to donate $5 million to the charity of the President’s choice if he released his college and passport records.
Now, Trump is facing a similar dilemma.
“So, what do you say Mr. Trump, can you walk away from this deal?” Kiernan concludes on the page.