Democratic states have introduced bills requiring President Donald Trump to release his last 5 years business and personal tax returns, or not be on the ballot for the 2020 Presidential Election.
The move, yet another attempt to discredit the President and prevent his re-election, began in California, whose state senate voted 27-10 for the requirement last Thursday. Three other states, Washington, Illinois, and Hawaii have also partially passed bills. This sets the stage for a battle in court prior to the 2020 campaign. Currently seventeen states, are considering legislation as well. Most of the states were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Tax returns go to the core of your true financial interests,” said Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat in the Washington state Senate. “Obviously, it’s just unprecedented for President Trump not to release his taxes. No one’s ever imagined that someone would do that, so I think it’s a legitimate public policy.”
There’s no federal law requiring a presidential candidate to release tax returns, but it’s been traditional since the 1970s. In 2016, Trump said he was not able to release his returns because they were being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
Republicans call the ballot qualification bills a stunt. In Washington state, they point out, top Democrats would directly benefit. Governor Jay Inslee is running for president and his attorney general, Bob Ferguson, who has sued the Trump Administration 35 times in less 2 years, is rumored to be considering a run for governor.
“It’s a blind partisanship of the attorney general and the governor who’s running for office,” said Republican Mark Schoesler, the Washington state Senate Minority Leader. “This is about 2020 presidential politics, not about our state.”
While states run the presidential electoral process, legal experts said they can’t add qualifications or requirements in order to become president.
“The Constitution has spoken to that,” said Andrew McCarthy of the National Review Institute. “And if you want to change the qualifications for presidency, including if you want to add a qualification that says you have to release your tax returns, you need to amend the [US} Constitution.”
Republicans in Washington state are also calling the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Patty Kuderer, a hypocrite. Kuderer, who represents the wealthiest district in the state with the two richest men in the world, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, among her constituents, refused to release her tax returns when asked by a reporter for the Seattle Times. Her bill only applies to people running for president and vice president. Kuderer declined a request by Fox News for an interview.