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Washington State Legislators Are Voting To Leave Trump Off The Ballot In 2020 Unless He Meets A Specific Condition

Washington State Legislators Are Voting To Leave Trump Off The Ballot In 2020 Unless He Meets A Specific Condition
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

That's one way to do it.

President Donald Trump could be left off the 2020 ballot in the state of Washington if he doesn't release his tax returns ahead of the election, according to major legislation approved this week that would legally require all presidential candidates to release the last five years of their personal tax returns to have their names featured on both primary and general voting ballots. The bill would also require the Secretary of State to post tax returns publicly.

The measure passed by 28-21 vote margin and now advances to the state's House of Representatives for approval.

Senator Patty Kuderer, who sponsored the legislation, said Trump had "broken" the longstanding norm for presidential candidates to release their financial records:

"Although releasing tax returns has been the norm for about the last 40 years in presidential elections, unfortunately we've seen that norm broken."

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states cannot add qualifiers to state senators and congressional representatives who wish to run outside of those listed in our nation's Constitution.

Two Washington Republicans have already expressed reservations.

"I just don't understand why in the world you would promote something that would connote that there's something suspicious about the activities of our elected officials," said Senator Maureen Walsh.

Her colleague, Senator Hans Zeiger, concurred, saying:

"We're on really risky ground when we're trying to place conditions on a federal election."

However, legal experts believe the law is "at least partly unclear, since the Constitution also gives states the power to set rules for how presidential elections are held within their borders," according to a CBS report.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and solicitor general Noah Purcell wrote in a letter to lawmakers that they believe the move is legal, though they noted it would "definitely be challenged" in court.

President Trump has for the last several years refused to release his tax returns, a move which his critics say is a violation of anti-corruption provisions in the Constitution. The new legislation has already garnered significant support.

Other states have proposed similar measures. In 2017, for example, New Jersey lawmakers approved a similar measure, but it was struck down by then-Governor Chris Christie, who likened it to a "political stunt."

Shortly after Democrats regained control of the House in January, they unveiled the "For the People Act," which "requires presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns, promotes transparency for presidential inaugural and transition committees and tightens White House ethics standards."

We're waiting, Mr. President.