The Illinois state Senate voted on Thursday to advance a bill that would require all future presidential candidates running for office (at least those hoping to appear on that state’s ballot) to submit their previous five years of personal tax returns.
The move is seen as an effort to force President Donald Trump, as well as any other presidential or vice presidential candidates for office in the years ahead, to disclose their personal income sources in order to allow voters to determine whether candidates have potential conflicts of interest while serving in office.
Republicans decried the measure as targeting Trump specifically while leaving other Democratic incumbent candidates, like Gov. JB Pritzker, free from such requirements, per reporting from WBEZ.
“This is quite frankly…an embarrassing waste of the Senate’s time,” Republican state Sen. Dale Righter said.
Illinois state senators voted earlier today to require presidential candidates to publicly release their tax returns, and if they don’t, the bill dictates they would not be able to appear on the ballot. https://t.co/hF2W5wOLqP @realDonaldTrump
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) April 12, 2019
The sponsor of the bill, Democratic Sen. Tony Munoz, disagreed.
“If you want to run for vice president or president of the United States, hey, what’s wrong with providing your tax returns for the past five years?” Munoz said.
The Democratic lawmaker added, “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you shouldn’t worry about anything.”
At least 18 other states have seen measures similar to Illinois’ submitted to state legislatures for consideration. Although the measures are seen as Democratic endeavors to compel candidates like Trump to release their records, some, like Dan Weiner, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, say that doesn’t necessarily make the bills inherently partisan.
“It is always true in American politics that these ideas are championed by perhaps the side that has more of political grievance at that particular moment. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea,” the Washington Post reported Weiner saying.
Trump once promised that he’d release his tax returns to the American people during the 2016 campaign. He later reneged on that pledge, citing his inability to release his returns due to being under audit by the IRS.
However, as recently as this week, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told a Congressional committee that there is “no rule that would prohibit the release of a tax return because it’s under audit,” per reporting from Axios.
Trump has also suggested that the American people aren’t interested in seeing his returns anymore. “Frankly, the people don’t care,” he said this week, according to a report from CNBC.
But that, too, isn’t accurate. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, a majority of Americans, 51 percent, still care about seeing the president’s tax information, and support efforts in Congress and across the nation to get the records released. Only 36 percent of respondents said that they oppose such efforts.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.