A prominent insurance icon has spoken out against Donald Trump over his refusal to release his tax returns.
Warren Buffett, owner of industry groups like GEICO and Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, was speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Omaha when he made his comments, joking that he would meet Trump “any place, any time between now and the election” to go over one another’s returns.
The comments come after the Republican nominee again refused to release his federal tax return statement, saying he cannot do so because he is being audited.
“Now I’ve got news for him, I’m under audit too,” Buffett told listeners. “There are no rules against showing your tax returns and just let people ask us questions about the items that are on there.”
He added that “you’re only afraid if you’ve got something to be afraid about,” stressing that Trump is not afraid of the IRS, but of voters.
Buffett, who is occasionally active in the political space, has made few comments on the 2016 election cycle. His presence at the Clinton rally suggests a continuing preference for the Democratic Party, however, after he publicly backed Barack Obama and endorsed his tax reform plans.
Buffett’s insurance firms appear to be somewhat aligned with him politically. While his flagship company, Berkshire Hathaway, has spent 62% of its more than $3.6 billion on political contributions on Republicans in 2016, versus 36% on Democrats, insurance companies under the Berkshire umbrella differ. GEICO has spent more than $30,000 in contributions, with 55% going to Democrats versus 45% to Republicans. General Reinsurance Corp. also follows trend with 26% of its spending going to Democrats and just 13% to Republicans.
Other spending is related individual campaign issues, such as referendums. In total, $2.6 billion of Berkshire’s contributions is going to political action committees and $836,000 to individual candidates.
Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance subsidiaries are something of an outlier for the industry, which donated 68% of its contributions to the Republican Party in 2012. Indeed, the industry’s top contributor – Starr Companies – spent more than $15 million on conservative groups from 2015 to 2016, and the Republican Party currently outstrips the Democratic Party $19.7 million to $9.6 million in donations in 2016. In fact, the only time the industry gave more heavily to Democrats since OpenSecrets began tracking contributions was in 1990, when the party captured $7.3 million in insurance spending compared to $7.1 million given to Republicans.
Yet Clinton is at the head of the pack when it comes to recipients of insurance dollars this year. She has received $1,108,891 in industry contributions, compared with $36,845 given to Trump’s campaign.
By company, the top spenders in insurance from 2015 through the present are:
- Starr Companies: $15,062,700
- New York Life Insurance: $1,570,192
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $1,545,471
- AFLAC Inc.: $1,215,224
- National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors: $1,191,000
- Metlife Inc.: $1,061,109
- Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America: $1,005,975
- Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers: $872,948
- USAA: $788,615
- Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance: $754,029
- Prudential Financial: $726,907
- Liberty Mutual: $701,528
- Northwestern Mutual: $690,694
- TigerRisk Partners: $674,200
- American Council of Life Insurers: $610,376
- American Financial Group: $534,536
- State Farm: $511,125
- Association for Advanced Life Underwriting: $490,000
- Zurich Financial Services: $477,785
- Nationwide: $476,801