Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey are attempting once again to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, reviving a bill that would keep any candidate for president or vice president off the state’s ballot if they do not make their tax returns public.
NorthJersey.com reported that the state Senate is slated to vote on the measure on Thursday, and it is the same bill the legislature passed in 2017 only to have it vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, a sponsor of the bill and one of many Democrats who were angered by Trump’s refusal to fork over his tax returns, believes the president might not have won had he done so.
“It is so obvious with this president that had voters known some of what seem to be his business interests, he may not have been elected president,” she said.
While those supporting the bill believe states have the authority under the Constitution to implement ballot access requirements, others are not sure it sets a wise precedent.
When former California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vetoed a similar measure in 2017, he said: “Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”
Presidential candidates currently are not required to release their tax returns, though Trump’s refusal to do so bucks the tradition most candidates have followed in recent decades “as a matter of transparency so voters could learn about their financial status, business dealings and potential conflicts of interest,” NorthJersey.com noted.
New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy opted against commenting on the measure, which if it passes again will land on his desk for signature.
Should he sign the bill into law, Murphy would become the first governor to enact such a requirement, though lawmakers in at least 24 states have considered similar moves.