State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), the Democrat candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, is part of a nationwide movement seeking to keep President Donald Trump off of state ballots in the 2020 election.
Clyde has maxed out on her political career in the state legislature due to term limits, but is now making a run for the office of Secretary of State, which oversees the elections process in Ohio.
In February 2017, she introduced a bill in the State House called the TRUMP Act.
The TRUMP Act stands for “Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public” and would require all candidates running for president and vice president to release five years of tax returns before they are allowed on the ballot in Ohio.
If it had been law, President Donald Trump’s name would not have appeared on the ballot in a state, Ohio, where he won easily over Hillary Clinton almost two years ago.
Clyde’s opponent in the Ohio secretary of state race is State Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), an Army veteran and former Green Beret who served tours of duty in Iraq, Kosovo and in the counter-narcotics task force on the U.S.-Mexican border.
The idea for the TRUMP Act bill was not original to Clyde. She merely responded to a nationwide movement to pass such bills through state legislatures. The movement started in late 2016, right after Trump was elected president, with TRUMP Act initiatives popping up in Maine, California, New York and Massachusetts.
TRUMP Act bills have since been introduced in at least 25 states including Ohio, where the anti-Trump movement found a willing conduit in state Rep. Kathleen Clyde.
A Feb. 7, 2017 article in the Dayton Daily News suggests Clyde’s introduction of the bill in Ohio marked one of the first attempts to get the anti-Trump bill passed in a state won by Trump in 2016. In short, Clyde was invoking a brazen, partisan attempt to find a disqualifier for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in a state where he remains popular, especially among Republican voters.
“Clyde, who may run for Secretary of State, is calling the proposed law the TRUMP Act, for ‘Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public,'” the newspaper reported.
The truth is, at least half a dozen liberal “blue” states had already introduced the exact same bill by the time Clyde’s copy-cat bill was introduced in the Ohio State House.
To date, however, not a single state has passed a TRUMP Act bill into law, and two governors, in New Jersey and California, have vetoed the bill.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed his state’s bill, called it a “transparent political stunt.”
Axios, a left-leaning news site, admits in a June 24 article that the bills are aimed at keeping one candidate off the ballots in as many states as possible in the 2020 presidential election.
But even Axios agrees there is “one big problem” with the TRUMP Act bills, if one were ever to get signed into law.
“It might not be constitutional for a state to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to get ballot access. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that neither states nor the federal government can create additional qualifications for congressional representatives or senators …and various legal experts anticipate that would extend to presidential candidates.”
Individual income tax returns are private and protected from unauthorized release. Since the 1970s, most presidential candidates have voluntarily release them, according to the Presidential Tax History Project, but forcing them to do so would present serious constitutional questions.
Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law School, told Associated Press there’s a “tax law problem, because federal law guarantees the confidentiality of tax returns,” and he anticipates “that law would pre-empt any state law requiring someone to divulge their returns.”
Even Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in California vetoed a TRUMP Act bill passed by his state legislature, saying the bill “sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent” for what individual states could require of candidates.”
Despite the dubious political backstory surrounding the TRUMP Act bills, Clyde’s decision to introduce such legislation in Ohio shows there is no limit to how far she is willing to go in order to please the far-left fringes of her party.
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Anthony Accardi is a staff writer for The Ohio Star.