Every major party presidential candidate in the last 40 years has released his or her tax returns, except for two. One was Gerald Ford and the other was Donald Trump. Trump, who’s completely embroiled in a scandal surrounding ties to Russia, may soon be forced, at court or congressional order, to release his returns, but if that doesn’t happen, Democrats at the state level might be forcing Trump’s hand.
State legislatures are now proposing measures that would ban any candidates from their ballots who don’t release tax returns.
“Tax return information would provide some transparency there to give voters the assurance that they need that the president is acting on behalf of us,” said Kathleen Clyde, an Ohio state representative who recently introduced a version of the bill. “It is problematic that he is the only candidate in 30 or 40 years not to provide that information.”
Clyde’s bill, the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act — the TRUMP Act — would require candidates for president and vice president to disclose five years of tax documents to Ohio’s Secretary of State, who would then post the documents online. Only after a candidate disclosed the tax information would he or she qualify for the ballot in one of the nation’s most hotly contested battlegrounds.
Similar measures requiring candidates to file with Secretary of State offices have been introduced in California, Oregon and Tennessee. Candidates would be required to file tax documents with state boards of election under bills filed in Illinois, Maryland, New York and Rhode Island.
Source: The Hill
So far, 19 states are considering similar bills and not all of them are blue, but it’s probably that only blue states will pass the bills, if at all.
Elections, even national elections, are run by the states. Nationally, there are only two qualifications to run for President: The candidate must be at least 35-years-old and must be a natural born citizen. None of the rest matters in the eyes of the law. That’s why Trump didn’t have to release his tax returns to begin with.
However, states have more latitude. For example, in many states, candidates must receive a minimum number of signatures on a petition before being allowed on a ballot, although that typically applies to non-major party candidates. Still, states can impose rules like filing fees and deadlines, although it’s still not clear that forcing candidates to release tax returns will pass constitutional muster.
Even if this passes in a few states, Trump could still, if he doesn’t implode, win reelection if he wins enough red states. In theory, he could win without a single vote in our most populous state (California), as long as he won the Electoral College. Let’s hope these bills do pass to prevent a future Trump, but first, let’s pressure Congress to force Trump’s hand right now.
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