Thune Challenges Daschle to Release Tax Info

Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Thune (search), who is challenging Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle (search) in the November general election, has posted five years of federal income tax returns online and wants Daschle to do the same.

Returns covering the years 1999-2003 are available on his campaign Web site, Thune announced Thursday in a news release.

Daschle spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said Daschle will release his tax returns for 1999 through 2002 if Thune and the National Republican Senatorial Committee stop running negative ads.

"This is a transparent political ploy to divert attention away from the overwhelming negative campaign John Thune is running," Pfeiffer said.

Dick Wadhams, Thune's campaign manager, rejected Daschle's campaign condition.

"What a farce," Wadhams said. "This is probably the thinnest fig leaf I've ever seen a candidate wrap around themselves."

The returns posted on Thune's Web site show the following:

— In 1999, he reported income of $131,726 and paid $22,031 in federal taxes.

— In 2000, he reported $140,024 and paid $23,264.

— In 2001, he reported $133,894 and paid $21,131.

— In 2002, he reported $137,294 and paid $20,695.

— In 2003, Thune reported $452,675 in income and paid $128,890.

Thune filed jointly with his wife, Kimberley, who is a homemaker.

Earlier this year, media outlets in South Dakota called on both Daschle and Thune to release last year's tax information.

Last year, Daschle earned a salary of $157,626 as Senate minority leader and another $449,021 from his book "Like No Other Time." Most of the money from the book was donated to charities.

Linda Daschle earned $749,588 that year as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist.