Lawmakers in New Jersey have revived legislation intended to keep President Donald Trump's name off the ballot in 2020. Democrats have targeted Trump with a proposal that "requires candidates for President and Vice-President of United States to disclose federal income tax returns to appear on ballot" and "prohibits Electoral College electors from voting for candidates who fail to file income tax returns."
As he has yet to disclose his tax returns, President Trump's name, if all things were to stay the same, would not appear on the ballot in the Garden State come 2020 if the bill were to pass.
As a candidate and serving as president, Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns. In modern tradition, disclosing one's tax returns is the normal course of procedure, albeit not required. Responding to requests for the disclosure from Democrats and critics on the Right, Trump has said that he was advised by lawyers not to disclose his returns because he is under audit by the IRS.
"I think there's something there," criticized former Republican governor Mitt Romney during the 2016 presidential election. "Either he's not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is or he hasn't been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn't been giving money to the vets or to the disabled like he's been telling us he's doing."
As evidenced by the 2016 presidential election results, the American people feel Trump's reasoning is sufficient, or, frankly, are entirely uninterested with his tax returns.
Such legislation was proposed in 2017 when Trump ally and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in office, though it was vetoed by the then-governor. According to Christie, the bill was a "transparent political stunt masquerading as a bill." According to NJ.com, Christie recommended the state's Open Public Record Act be expanded instead. Democrats rejected the idea.
With Democrats' control of the Legislature and Democrat Phil Murphy serving as governor of the state, the legislation has a better chance of passing.
The calls for the returns have only escalated with Democrats' control of the House. As recently as November, Trump told reporters that he would block Democrats' requests if he were still under audit, though he would consider a disclosure once the audit is complete.
"They're under audit. They have been for a long time," the president told the media, adding, "If I were finished with the audit, I would have an open mind to it. When that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it."
As noted by The Hill, "the chairmen of congressional tax committees can request tax returns from the Treasury Department and review them in a closed session before voting to make all or parts of the returns public." If Trump were to ignore the request, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would have to answer.
"Mnuchin told The New York Times earlier this month that he would work with the department's general counsel and the general counsel for the IRS to address any requests should Democrats win the House," noted the outlet. "If the Trump administration refuses to provide Democrats with the tax returns, or stalls in providing them, the matter could end up in court."
The New Jersey bill is sponsored by Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Hunterdon and Mercer), Sen. Linda R. Greenstein, (D-Mercer and Middlesex), and Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington).