According to new reporting from Salon, Donald Trump may face more than just a strong challenger from the Democratic field of 20 candidates vying for the chance to take him down. America has already seen several of those competitors release years and years worth of tax returns as an indicator of the kind of transparency with which they intend to run their respective campaigns — and to delineate a distinction between themselves and Trump, who has steadfastly refused to do anything of the sort.
Now, nearly 40 percent of states have legislation in the works to require that candidates who want to even appear on the ballot in their state must release their taxes.
It’s not currently required by law, but it’s also not prohibited by the Constitution — states have almost free reign to set standards for appearing on the ballot, beginning with garnering a significant enough percentage of the vote in a primary. If that standard can prohibit a candidate from appearing on the state’s electoral slate, then similar “like the other candidates” litmus tests would almost assuredly pass constitutional muster as well.
More importantly, it would finally put to rest Trump’s lies about why he hasn’t released his taxes yet. He has, over and over, relied on the excuse that he was “under audit” — but we found out shortly after the first time he floated that doozy that there is no such restriction on releasing one’s own taxes. Aside from that, his former attorney testified before Congress around a month ago that he doesn’t even believe Trump’s taxes are under audit at all, and that he simply doesn’t want to release them because he’s concerned he will trigger an audit.
Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington all have pending legislation that would enact such a provision, and five other states — Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Virginia — have seen their efforts stall in one chamber or the other, but are working on still making it happen.
Just the states where the legislation is currently on the table represent 211 electoral votes of the 538 available in a presidential election, making it mathematically almost impossible for Trump to win without them — and if the other 5 states get their acts together before 2020, the remaining electoral votes up for grabs would simply hand the presidency to Trump’s challenger without even needing the election.
What a welcome campaign season that would be.
Featured image is a screen capture.