Proposed bill would force presidential candidates, including Trump, to release taxes

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 19:07:34-04

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to file five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballots.

The Senate voted 33-3 in favor of the measure. A House version has been held in a committee.

Senate spokesman Greg Pare said if the bill becomes law, President Donald Trump would not appear on a future ballot unless he files his returns.

Democratic Sen. Gayle Goldin, who sponsored the bill, did not explicitly mention Trump in vouching for the policy on the Senate floor. She did say that “this president” was the first since Richard Nixon to not voluntarily release his tax returns.

“Tax returns provide essential information about candidates’ conflicts of interest” that are otherwise not publicly available, she told her colleagues.

Goldin declined to say, after the vote, if the bill was directly inspired by Trump, but she called his break with the tradition a “significant issue.”

“We just have no idea how much of his policymaking is driven by his own financial gain,” she said.

Sen. Elaine Morgan, one of three Republicans to vote against the bill in the overwhelmingly Democratic chamber, said it does not make sense to require presidential nominees to disclose their tax returns if state lawmakers do not have to release their own.

Democratic Sen. Joshua Miller, who supported the bill, said he hopes Rhode Island sets a precedent for other states. A candidate could simply bypass Rhode Island in the election if he or she does not want to release finances, he said.

It was not immediately clear whether the House would take up the bill before the session ends.

Lawmakers are hoping to end the session on Friday.