Politics & Government

McCain releases wife's 2006 tax form; she made $6 million

p >WASHINGTON — Call Cindy McCain the Six Million Dollar Woman.

McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, earned more than $6 million in 2006, according to tax returns the McCain campaign released late Friday afternoon.

Cindy McCain is the chairwoman of Hensley Co., an Arizona beer distributorship founded by her father in 1955. In 2007, the privately held firm, the nation's third-largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship, sold 23 million cases of beer, according to the company's Web site.

She earned $6,066,431 in 2006, of which $5,496,694 was taxable income. She paid taxes of $2,042,564 and received a tax refund of $296,119.

The McCains, married for 28 years, keep their finances separate and file tax returns separately under a prenuptial agreement. The McCain campaign released John McCain's tax returns for 2006 and 2007 last month but had refused to release Cindy McCain's returns. Speaking on NBC's "Today Show" on May 8, Cindy McCain said she'd never release her tax returns, even as first lady, because "it's a privacy issue . . . I'm not the candidate."

Her husband's campaign offered no explanation for her change of heart.

The campaign released only the first two pages of Cindy McCain's 1040 form from one year: 2006. She received an extension on filing her 2007 tax returns.

The documents, however, offer a glimpse into the potential first lady's wealth.

Of her more than $6 million in income, more than $4.5 million came from partnerships, royalties, trusts or S corporations (companies that are permitted to pass their profits and losses through to their shareholders, who then pay the taxes on them). She earned an additional $743,476 in capital gains, $446,569 in dividends and $299,418 in salary. She listed her occupation as "executive."

She listed two dependent children: son James, now a U.S. Marine, and daughter Bridget. Her itemized deductions totaled $569,737, and she paid $24,162 in employment taxes for hired help.

Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group, called the release "a step in the right direction."

"Ideally, we'd see more," Boyle said. "It's important. It helps draw a more complete picture of the candidate. It's important for the public and the press to figure out potential conflicts of interest."

Democrats pounced on the release as insufficient, noting that the combined releases of the McCain tax returns are the smallest amount of tax information released by a major party nominee since Ronald Reagan in 1980. (In 2004, condiment heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry released part of her 2003 return; her husband John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, releases his tax returns annually).

"It is laughable for the campaign to release so little information and say they are being transparent," said Karen Finney, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.