Odds are President Donald Trump won’t win New Jersey in the 2020 election. But if the state Senate gets its way, he probably wouldn’t even appear on the ballot.

The Senate voted 23-11 Thursday to require candidates for president and vice president to disclose five years of federal tax returns to appear on the ballot in the Garden State. They would have to submit the returns to the state Division of Elections, which would then post them online.

Electors from New Jersey would be prohibited from voting for candidates who don’t comply.

Trump didn’t make public his tax returns in the 2016 election, breaking a more than 40-year tradition. He has said he cannot because they are being audited, although that doesn’t actually prohibit their release.

State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, opposed bill S119 and tried unsuccessfully to have it also apply to candidates for governor and the state Legislature.

“Legislation like this puts us on a very slippery slope. Partisan politics should not pick who can and cannot run in this state. Elections will be decided even before the people get a chance to vote,” said Pennacchio.

“There are also constitutional issues that arise – First Amendment rights, equal protections. These will surely find themselves to the courts,” he said. “My understanding is that no other state in the union puts this type of disclosure as a requirement for somebody to run as president.”

The vote was generally but not exclusively along party lines. State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-Somerset, joined Democrats in voting for it. State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak, D-Cape May, joined Republicans in opposition.

The Assembly version of the bill, A1230, has not yet gotten a hearing before the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

In 2017, the bill was approved by the Senate and Assembly but vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Christie.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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