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New Jersey legislature passes bill requiring presidential disclosure of federal tax return

[JURIST] The New Jersey Legislature [official website] passed S3048 [bill, PDF] on Thursday which would require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to reveal their federal income tax return [TheHill blog] before being listed on the state's ballot. The bill, which was passed by a democratic-led state legislature and awaits Governor Chris Christie's signature, was inspired by President Donald Trump's [official website] refusal to release his own tax-returns. Though many believe Christie is unlikely to sign off on the bill, some believe the question of whether a state may impose such requirements on an official seeking a federal office will be challenged in court [NJ report]. As of now, at least 22 other states have passed similar legislation, and others contemplate doing so.

A number of bi-partisan experts and advocacy groups have expressed concerns over potential ethical issues being faced by Trump. In January he Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] claiming that Trump's continued business dealings violate the Emoluments Clause [text] of the US Constitution. The same month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed [JURIST report] a request under the Freedom of Information Act for "records pertaining to financial and other ethical conflicts of interest in connection with the presidential transition ...." Two government ethics lawyers [WP report] who counseled former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have also voiced concerns over Trump's refusal to disclose his tax returns, which they argue is an impediment to ensuring that the actions of the new administration will be conflict-free. Concerns have also been voiced over the more than 4,000 open lawsuits [USA Today report] involving Trump and his businesses.

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