This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.
Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill.
When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.
In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.
Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.
Could your state pass something similar?
First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.
If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.
To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:
Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.
Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.
Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).
Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:
Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:
Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:
This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):
Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger