Republicans are upping the ante on a Democratic bill that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to secure a place on the ballot in New Jersey.
State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) will offer an amendment at tomorrow’s Senate session that will hold all candidates for the New Jersey Legislature to the same set of rules.
The bill was drafted as a way of pushing President Donald Trump to release his federal tax returns.
Pennacchio’s proposed hostile amendment seeks to force Democratic state senators into voting against a proposal that would hold them to the same standards they want to hold Trump.
“New Jersey Democrats are claiming that this legislation is about transparency, well what’s good for the goose is what’s good for the gander,” Pennacchio said. “If this really is about making sure voters are well-informed, then commonsense dictates that S-119 should apply to all of us as well.”
The Morris County Republican said he would support the bill if the Senate adopts his amendment.
“We shouldn’t spend our time practicing political theater. The issue of requiring the disclosure of tax returns should apply broadly to candidates around the country,” said Pennacchio. “We shouldn’t pick and choose the parameters of who can run who can’t. That sets a bad precedent and goes against our constitutional rights to free expression, and the right to run for office.”
Democrats will need to decide if they want to vote on Pennacchio’s amendment or pull the bill entirely.
“Anyone who opposes my amendment proves that S-119 is nothing more than a political stunt,” Pennacchio said. “It’s time for Democrats in New Jersey to walk the walk.”
The bill, which would likely face a court challenge if passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, also prohibits members of the Electoral College from casting New Jersey’s fourteen votes for a candidate who didn’t file five years of income tax returns with the state Division of Elections.
Update: Pennacchio has added candidates for governor to his amendment.