New Jersey governor Chris Christie was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in his run for president. More than a year later, he again proved he’s firmly on Trump’s side.
On Monday, Christie vetoed a bill passed by the New Jersey legislature that would have required presidential candidates to release their past five years’ worth of tax returns to the public in order to appear on the ballot in New Jersey. The measure is aimed at forcing the hand of Trump, who has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns.
Politico reported that Chris Christie called the bill unconstitutional and a political stunt aimed at playing to the Democratic Party’s base in his veto explanation. Instead, Christie called for the state to open up its Open Records Act to include legislative records, which would make a New Jersey lawmaker’s voting record public to anyone who requested it.
The veto was an expected move given the long friendship Chris Christie has shared with Trump. The two men have known each other for years, and Christie was the first notable Republican to throw his support behind Trump’s campaign when he dropped out of the race in February of 2016. Trump has claimed that he would release his taxes after an audit, but as that excuse has dried up, he has shifted to calling the issue decided and outright refusing to release his tax returns, something all presidential candidates have done since the 1970’s.
Whether the threat of legislation compels Trump to release his taxes remains to be seen, as 15 other states and the District of Columbia are considering similar legislation. Although most of these states are deep blue states that Trump is unlikely to win in any situation, including Chris Christie’s New Jersey, the list also includes Arizona, Iowa and Pennsylvania, all of which cast their electoral votes for Trump in 2016.
The three states provide a combined 37 electoral votes, which would have cost Trump the presidency if he had lost all three. If such legislation passed in those states and is upheld in the courts, the president would either have to release his tax returns or essentially forfeit the election, as he would be casting aside both his margin for error as well as one of the three “Trinity” states in Pennsylvania. Since 1960, the Trinity states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania have decided every election, as the eventual president has won at least two of the three states.
As for Christie’s decision, it might serve to drive yet another wedge between an unpopular governor and a base that is decidedly Democratic. Despite electing Christie twice, New Jersey has two Democratic senators and hasn’t sent its electoral votes to a Republican since 1988. Furthermore, Christie’s approval rating has sagged badly, as a March poll put his approval numbers at just 24 percent.
That will likely embolden Democrats as they prepare to try to reclaim the governor’s mansion in November. With a month to go until the primaries for the governor’s race, Democratic front-runner Phil Murphy has pledged that he will sign the legislation that Chris Christie vetoed if he is elected, sending a clear message that Democrats do not intend to let Monday’s veto be the end of their effort to force transparency from Trump.
What do you think of Christie’s veto? What is your opinion of the proposed legislation? Do you think Donald Trump should release his tax returns? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
By Dan Angell
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