A couple of weeks ago the presidential campaign of Donald Trump announced that the candidate would not be releasing his tax returns. Trump had maintained for months that he does not want to release the returns until an IRS audit was complete, even though there is no law or regulation that would prevent him from doing so. But now Trump plans to break with a tradition going back through every GOP presidential candidate to at least Richard Nixon, and will keep his tax information secret.
There has been a whirlwind of speculation about why the alleged billionaire businessman wouldn’t want to share his tax information with the public. Maybe he’s not as rich as he claims. Maybe he doesn’t give as much to charity as he has said he does. Maybe the information on his return will show he has ties to the mob, to Russia or to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Those are some of the theories being tossed about to explain Trump’s desire to prevent public scrutiny of his finances. But recently another suggestion has appeared on the internet. Maybe, the claim goes, Trump isn’t going to release his tax forms because they show he has donated to a group that supports pedophilia and advocates for changes in sex crime laws relating to pedophiles.
Pedophiles naturally operate under the radar, since the activities they like to engage in are highly illegal. But there is one group that has not been afraid to put itself into public view: NAMBLA, the “North American Man-Boy Love Association.” Despite the fact that virtually everyone agrees they are a despicable organization, NAMBLA gets away with their advocacy because calling for changes in laws related to pedophilia is not illegal.
On the Reddit subgroup “/r/EnoughTrumpSpam/” there is a bot (short for robot) called “AutoModerator.” Every time a poster mentions the words “tax returns,” the bot produces this text:
Speaking of tax returns, did you hear Donald Trump is refusing to release them because Donald Trump has donated to NAMBLA? That’s what all the best sources, the most tremendous sources are saying, and if they’re all saying that Donald Trump donated to NAMBLA, well, I can see why Donald Trump would want to cover up his donations to NAMBLA. I’m not claiming that Donald Trump donates to NAMBLA, but that’s what these excellent sources are alleging, that Donald Trump does indeed donate to NAMBLA.
Note the phrasing of what the bot says. Sound familiar? If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize it sounds exactly like The Donald himself. Trump is a master of innuendo, with statements like “there’s something going on,” and “many people are saying.” As Reddit moderator “Faiz” told The Daily Beast,
If you think about it, this is exactly how Trump works. He stirs up as much smoke as he possibly can to convince people that there is fire.
The idea behind the bot is to generate interest in the idea that Trump has donated to NAMBLA, and cause people to hit internet search engines for more information. Apparently the plan is working. Look at the spike recorded by Google Trends for the search “Donald Trump NAMBLA” over the weekend:
And Reddit users are having a blast with the whole idea, as witnessed by the comments in this thread:
Of course, nobody seriously believes that Trump is withholding his tax returns because of contributions to NAMBLA. The whole purpose is to show Trump supporters how their candidate operates, throwing out unsubstantiated accusations and leaving them dangling in the air for everyone to draw their own conclusions. And maybe, just maybe, if the effort gathers enough steam, Trump could be embarrassed into releasing his returns, although that’s not likely, seeing how he never seems to be embarrassed by anything.
“So, why do you think Trump isn’t willing to show his tax returns?”
“I’m not sure, but on the internet, many people are saying…”
Featured image via Scott Eisen/Getty Images