I’ve received a number of emails like the one pasted below in support of Senate 365 which would require Presidential candidates to publish their tax returns in order to get ballot access in Massachusetts.
I think Donald Trump should release his tax returns. He is the first
candidate in 40 years to refuse to do so, but now that the tradition
has been broken, he may not be the last.
I believe that tax returns provide voters with critical information
about candidates for the most powerful office in the world, such as
potential conflicts of interest, policy priorities, and financial
entanglements with other countries.
Massachusetts has a simple solution to overcome the President’s
secrecy–we can pass S.365. This bill requires that from now on,
presidential candidates must release their tax returns in order to be
listed on the Massachusetts ballot. In fact, just last week Common
Cause and other groups testified at the State House in support of this
Similar bills have been introduced in 25 other states with both Democratic and Republican sponsors. Transparency and accountability are not partisan issues.
I might support this as a federal law, but I am not cosponsoring this state-level bill.
I completely get the motivation for it — it is outrageous that President Trump was unwilling to disclose his tax returns. But in a sense, that is ultimately a statement that he has chosen to make and people had the opportunity to vote against him in part because of it.
Additionally, it troubles me that individual states could set disclosure rules as a condition of ballot access. I’ve heard it argued that this is constitutional, but I’m concerned that it could lead to a patchwork of enactments in different states that might come at it from a variety of political perspectives.
And consider this dynamic: The states that are most likely to enact this particular rule are states that Trump is never going to win in the electoral college. So, he just will skip ballot access here.
I just don’t think it is an appropriate piece of state legislation.
Would welcome further discussion here.
Surprised that you are opposed to this, Senator.
“…that is ultimately a statement that he has chosen to make and people had the opportunity to vote against him in part because of it.”
— Not interested in Trump’s position on mandatory release of (his) tax returns, am interested in knowing about financial conflicts of interest that any candidate may have. Tax returns should reveal at least some of those conflicts.
“it troubles me that individual states could set disclosure rules as a condition of ballot access”
— This is, clearly, not going to happen at the federal level. Should we then repeal marijuana legalization, seeing that it has not been approved at the federal level? States are not passive participants, particularly when it comes to elections. In fact, each state has its own election laws and methods. Besides, wouldn’t revealing tax returns to one state, then reveal those tax returns to all states?
“The states that are most likely to enact this particular rule are states that Trump is never going to win in the electoral college”
— This is not about Donald Trump, this is about all candidates being more open about possible financial conflicts. This is not about the next Presidential Election, this is about all future Presidential Elections.
The statement that Donald Trump made by refusing to release his tax returns is that he had something to hide. For me, that is disqualifying for a Presidential candidate, but many voters did not feel that way.
Consider the possibility that conservative states could set ballot access provisions requiring disclosure of other private information perhaps driven by social views. I think this is a slippery slope.
I agree that Mr. Trump has something to hide: his personal contempt for paying taxes which would be reflected in him not paying taxes. If he showed the nation his returns, he would not have been elected President.
Having said that, I don’t want states to put up barriers that would prevent people from running for President.
For example, you could say to get on the Massachusetts ballot, you need to have disclosed your taxes one year prior to election day. Late entering candidates would be excluded, like a grieving V.P. Joe Biden.
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