President Donald Trump broke with 40 years of precedent when he refused to release his tax returns during his campaign. Now California lawmakers want to force him to decide between sharing his returns or giving up his spot on the state’s 2020 presidential ballot. California would become the first state in the country to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns if a bill passed by the Legislature last week is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. But legal scholars say there are significant questions whether the legislation passes constitutional muster. And it’s not clear whether Brown, who didn’t release his own tax returns in his most recent two gubernatorial races, backs the bill. “You can bet that if Governor Brown signs it, the second the ink is dry someone will sue,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who says there are strong constitutional arguments on both sides of the issue.
A proposed Massachusetts ballot question that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns from the prior six years to secure a spot on the state primary ballot cleared a key hurdle Wednesday. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey certified the question, saying it passes constitutional muster. That clears the question to go before voters next year, provided that supporters can collect the tens of thousands of signatures needed to get on the ballot. The proposal is a reaction to Republican President Donald Trump’s refusal to publicly release his tax returns during the 2016 election. It would impose the same requirements for candidates for vice president.
President Donald Trump’s refusal to publicly release his tax returns is fueling initiatives in Massachusetts and other states that would require presidential candidates to disclose their personal finances before they could appear on the ballot. Massachusetts lawmakers are set to hold a hearing Wednesday at the Statehouse on a bill that would impose those conditions. The chief sponsor, state Sen. Mike Barrett, said that until the election of Trump, most Americans just assumed candidates for president would adhere to “modern practices of disclosure and transparency” — even those that are unwritten. “One of them is the disclosure by candidates of personal financial information related to possible conflicts of interest,” the Lexington Democrat said. “The 2016 election shattered our confidence in the broad acceptance by presidential candidates of certain rules of public conduct.”
Australia: Malcolm Roberts’s election may have been invalid, government solicitor tells court | The Guardian
Malcolm Roberts could be the exception among sitting parliamentarians ensnared in the dual citizen saga in that his election in 2016 may have been invalid, the high court has heard. Roberts and former senator Scott Ludlam were different to the other three politicians so far referred to the high court – Barnaby Joyce, Larissa Waters and Matt Canavan – because they knew they had been citizens of other countries, the solicitor-general, Stephen Donaghue, told the court on Thursday. Tony Windsor, the former independent MP and rival to Joyce, has been allowed to join the citizenship case, which chief justice Susan Kiefel has set down hearings in Canberra in October.
Australia’s parliament is in the grip of the world’s most ridiculous constitutional crisis. The situation threatens the country’s democratic process, which is reason enough for politicians and courts to work to unpick it. More importantly, though, it raises questions the rest of the world would do well to ponder. Over the past month, five members of Australia’s 226-member parliament have admitted that they may have unwittingly held dual citizenship — a condition that, under Australia’s 1900 constitution, disqualifies them from political office in Canberra. The latest blow on Monday ensnared Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, putting into jeopardy the government’s one-seat majority in the governing House of Representatives. Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand in 1924. As a result, Kiwis officially consider him one of their own.
Two Australian politicians have been forced to leave their seats in the Senate after they discovered they were ineligible to stand because they held dual citizenship with other countries. Greens senator Larissa Waters resigned on Tuesday after revealing she also held Canadian citizenship, days after her party colleague Scott Ludlam was forced to step down after discovering he held dual citizenship with New Zealand. Australia’s constitution bars dual citizens from eligibility for elected office, unless they can show they have taken reasonable steps to sever foreign ties. Although Ludlam served in the upper house for nine years and Waters for six, the revelations mean they were technically never senators. A visibly emotional Waters apologised for failing to conduct the necessary checks to ensure she was eligible to sit in parliament. She said she had learned with “shock and sadness” she was a dual citizen after checking last week.
The deputy leader of an Australian political party announced Friday that he was ending his nine-year career in Parliament because he had discovered he had technically never been a senator. Scott Ludlam, the 47-year-old deputy leader of the minor Greens party, said he was “personally devastated” to learn that he was a citizen of New Zealand as well as Australia, which made him ineligible for the Senate job he has held since July 2008. The constitution states that a “citizen of a foreign power” is not eligible to be elected to the Australian Parliament. … Born in in Palmerston North in New Zealand, Ludlam moved to Perth, Australia, when was 3 years old. He became an Australian as a teenager and said he hadn’t realized that New Zealand citizenship “might be something that sticks to you in that way.”
Lawmakers in nearly half the states want to add a requirement for presidential candidates: Show us your tax returns. The issue has dogged President Donald Trump, who became the first presidential candidate in modern times to refuse to make his returns public. It flared anew this week after MSNBC said it had obtained two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal return, prompting the administration to release the documents preemptively. State lawmakers around the country, mostly Democrats, want to ensure transparency in future presidential campaigns so voters can evaluate candidates’ sources of income and any possible conflicts of interest. Most of the bills would require presidential contenders to release copies of their returns as a condition for appearing on that state’s ballot, although it’s unclear whether they could pass constitutional muster. The aim is to find out about potential conflicts that candidates might have before they take office, said Hawaii Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat who introduced one of the Hawaii bills.
State legislators across the country are debating new measures that would require candidates running for president to publicly disclose their tax returns to qualify for the ballot. The measures are aimed at President Trump, who became the first White House candidate in recent times refuse to release his tax documents to the public. Democrats, incensed by Trump’s false claims of being prevented from releasing the documents because of an IRS audit, see the legislation on the state level as a way to force the president’s hand when he seeks reelection in 2020. “Tax return information would provide some transparency there to give voters the assurance that they need that the president is acting on behalf of us,” said Kathleen Clyde, an Ohio state representative who recently introduced a version of the bill. “It is problematic that he is the only candidate in 30 or 40 years not to provide that information.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require President-elect Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The measure comes as Democrats are pushing to increase the financial transparency of Trump and his wealthy Cabinet picks. But it is unlikely to be enacted with Trump taking office later this month and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Wyden’s bill would require sitting presidents to provide their three most recent years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). It would also mandate that major-party presidential nominees release their returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of accepting the nomination at party conventions. Under the bill, if presidents and nominees don’t release their tax returns, the Treasury secretary would provide them directly to OGE and FEC. The agencies would then make the returns public.