Connecticut could end up ending one of the most heated political debates in Washington, or it could end up leaving President Donald Trump off of the 2020 ballot altogether.
Connecticut is one of 18 states with a proposal to mandate that anyone running for president has to disclose their federal tax returns in order for that person to appear on the state ballot. In Connecticut, the proposal also extends to candidates running for governor.
Sen. Mae Flexer, (D – Killingly), who chairs the Government and Elections Administration Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly, acknowledges that the bill exists because President Donald Trump broke the norm of providing several years of tax returns in the lead up to the 2016 election.
"I think there's a recognition from my colleagues and from the American people and the people of Connecticut that they need to understand the full breadth of the president's financial interests and to do that we need to see the president's tax returns,” she said.
The proposal, which passed the GAE Committee earlier in April, would require gubernatorial and presidential candidates wishing to appear on the ballot to disclose three years of federal tax returns.
The issue is significant, because it could set up a scenario where if the General Assembly passes it, and then Gov. Ned Lamont signs it into law, then it would set up a choice for the president. He could sue to block the law, cooperate and provide his tax returns going back three years, or he could settle with being a write-in candidate only.
On Monday, the president sued to block his financial records from being disclosed to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Republicans in Connecticut describe the measure as a political cheap shot aimed at the president.
"It's simply here for political purposes and I think that's unfortunate,” said Sen. Rob Sampson, (R – Wolcott), who is the ranking member on the GAE Committee. He said he believes the proposal is unconstitutional.
"There is a very clear requirement in the United States Constitution about what is required to be an eligible candidate for president and I believe that supersedes any Connecticut law that would say because a presidential candidate doesn't disclose their tax returns that they would not be allowed,” he said.
Flexer said she thinks it’s possible that lawmakers approve the measure this year. She said voters have a right to know what financial interests candidates have.
“Obviously President Trump is a strong case why the American people need to understand the financial interests of their president but we're looking actually at a proposal that would do the same thing for gubernatorial candidates in our state as well,” she said.