Blue-state lawmakers want to keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns

January 3 at 6:42 PM

Lawmakers in several deep-blue states want to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in those states, a sharp rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump’s ongoing refusal to make his tax records public.

A pair of Maryland Democrats on Tuesday announced they would introduce a bill mandating the release of five years of tax returns, mirroring similar proposals in New York, Massachusetts, California and Maine.

If approved, the proposals could keep Trump from appearing on some ballots in 2020 if he continues breaking with the decades-long tradition of financial transparency and decides to seek a second term.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in May introduced a federal bill requiring major-party candidates to release their returns, but that legislation didn’t advance in the Republican-controlled Congress.

The state lawmakers say they want to enshrine into law what’s been a long-standing norm among presidential contenders: the public release of tax returns detailing sources of income, business interests and charitable giving.

Trump faced strong criticism from his opponents throughout the 2016 campaign for saying he would not release his tax returns while the Internal Revenue Service is auditing them. The IRS does not bar public disclosures of tax returns under audit — Richard M. Nixon released his as president, despite being under audit. Portions of Trump’s 1995 tax return, which were leaked to the New York Times, suggest that the president-elect may have avoided paying federal income taxes for as long as 18 years.

“We all expected anyone who is going to be in front of the public and lead our nation would be transparent,” said Maryland Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, who plans to sponsor the legislation with fellow Prince George’s County Democrat Jimmy Tarlau. “He chose not to be, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future from any candidate.”

It is not yet clear whether the proposal will win support from the legislature’s Democratic leaders, or is likely to advance in either chamber. Spokespeople for Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who did not vote for Trump, did not immediately return a request for comment on whether he would sign such a bill if it passed.

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County) said it should be up to voters to decide if they don’t want a president who hasn’t disclosed tax returns.

“To me, it just looks like sour grapes over the election,” said Jennings. “We don’t reveal our tax returns as legislators. Why are you doing it for the president and not every other office too?”

The states mulling this approach to pressure Trump into releasing his taxes all went to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and the failure of Trump or any other Republican to appear on their ballots would not necessarily affect the result of a future election.

But lawmakers pushing the tax-returns mandate say the significance of a sitting president, or any major-party candidate, not being offered as a choice to voters in their states would ramp up the pressure on White House hopefuls to disclose their finances.

“It would be astounding if a presidential candidate refused to file for office in any state in the union . . . and also suggest the candidate has something to hide,” said New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who was the first to author a tax-returns disclosure bill.

He called the legislation the Tax Returns Made Uniformly Public, or TRUMP, Act.

States have varying rules for how candidates can get on the ballot, but they generally focus on submitting signatures and paying fees. Additional qualifications or disclosures are unusual.

Hoylman and other lawmakers say Laurence Tribe, a constitutional-law scholar at Harvard University, told them requiring tax disclosures would be constitutional under the broad powers that states have to control ballot access. Tribe did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Vikram Amar, the dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, said that a patchwork of ballot access requirements in states that leave voters in different states with different choices in a national race could violate the Constitution. But he also said tax disclosure rules could stand if courts agree that states have wide latitude even in running presidential elections. Such a decision could also open the door for other requirements — such as a barring candidates such as Trump who have never held public office or politicians who have been in office for decades, Amar said.

“You could imagine states doing all kind of things that may be nominally legitimate but obviously have a partisan tinge to them,” Amar said in an interview.

Lawmakers pushing for tax-return disclosure say they aren’t proposing anything radical, since candidates in every presidential race since 1980 — except Trump — have released their tax returns.

“This is a real opportunity for statehouses to take this matter into their own hands and ensure that their voters have the information they need to make a decision as important as casting a vote for president of the United States,” Hoylman said.

The Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 legislative session begins Jan. 11.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/01/03/blue-state-lawmakers-want-to-keep-trump-off-2020-ballot-unless-he-releases-tax-returns/?postshare=3981483477508601&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.cd1b2b9902e1

STOP TRUMP in 2020: Tax Returns for Rhode Island Ballot Access

As reported in the New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, and Maine Public, state assembly leaders in New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maine are introducing legislation that can fix some of the damage done by the 2016 election.

The Tax Returns for Ballot Access Act would force candidates for president to release up to ten years of tax returns, stock holdings, and business relationships to the state level board of elections no later than 50 days before the general election, which would in turn redact personal information and make the returns public. Failure to comply with the legislation should it become law would prohibit the state’s electors from voting for that candidate and the candidate’s name would not appear on the state ballot.  The President elect’s refusal to disclose his tax returns, stock holdings, and business relationships denied voters an important perspective on the candidate’s potential conflicts of interests as well as their financial well-being and how much he gave to charity. The current lack of transparency with his financial relationships places our country at a higher security risk.  Since the Republican administration and congress would be unlikely to act on this, this becomes a matter for the states. And thus it is up to Democrat majority states like Rhode Island to lead the nation in requiring tax and financial disclosure for the 2020 Presidential election for ballot access in the state.

 

Support the TRUMP Act: No Presidency without Tax Returns

As initially reported in Buzzfeed, Fortune, and now the New York Times editorial board, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (D. 27th District) has introduced a bill that can fix some of the damage done by the 2016 election. This bill deserves and needs popular support.
The T.R.U.M.P. (Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public) Act, “would force candidates for president to release five years of tax returns to the New York State board of elections no later than 50 days before the general election, which would in turn redact personal information and make the returns public. Failure to comply with the legislation should it become law would prohibit the state’s electors from voting for that candidate and the candidate’s name would not appear on the New York state ballot.” As Hoylman states, Trump’s refusal to disclose his returns have denied voters “an important perspective on the candidate’s potential conflicts of interests as well as their financial well-being and how much he gave to charity.”

 

Make presidential candidates release their tax returns? Two senators take a shot at it

SACRAMENTO BEE: Two state senators are introducing legislation to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot, a direct response to President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax documents prior to the November election.

“The American people deserve honesty and transparency from their president,” said incoming Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are getting lies and obfuscation from President-Elect Trump, especially in regards to how his business interests may impact his administration.”

The bill, which will be co-introduced by Wiener and Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, in January, is modeled after New York’s TRUMP Act, also known as Senate S8217. Introduced by Sen. Brad Hoylman, the New York bill requires presidential and vice presidential candidates to file five years of tax income returns at least 50 days before the general election.

“Transparency is a non-partisan issue,” McGuire said in a statement. “Voters not only deserve full disclosure of their future leader’s tax returns, they should be entitled to them.”

 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article121773703.html#storylink=cpy

Tax Returns for Ballot Access in Maine

The #taxreturnforballotaccess movement continues with three legislative sponsors stepping up to lead the effort in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York.  Representative-elect Seth Berry (D-Maine 55th) will be the latest sponsor to step forward to lead the effort in Maine.    Representative Berry previously represented Maine’s 67th district from 2006-2014.   http://mainepublic.org/post/bill-would-require-presidential-candidates-release-tax-returns-maine#stream/0

Officially Launched

We have officially launched our website, Facebook Group, and Twitter account!  The website contains necessary contact information to identify you local state legislator and provides a draft template bill that can be used as a start point to draft new legislation.  In the coming weeks will be expanding the toolkit to include state by state specific statutes/laws that oversee the ballot access process.  We will also be expanding our resource templates to include canned emails, talking points, and FAQs for holding meetings with state legislators.

We are excited to launch this campaign to hold our elected officials accountable and maintain the necessary transparency to minimize conflicts of interest.  We look forward to advancing this cause in the coming year.