Gov. Christie on Monday vetoed a bill that would have required President Trump to release his tax returns in order to appear on the New Jersey ballot in 2020, blasting the legislation as “a transparent political stunt.”
In a veto message, the Republican governor accused the Democratic-controlled Legislature of introducing the bill “as a form of therapy to deal with their disbelief at the 2016 election results, and to play politics to their base.”
The bill’s requirements would have applied not all candidates for president and vice president seeking to appear on the New Jersey ballot.
Trump is the first president in 40 years not to have released tax returns.
Lawmakers in a number of states have introduced similar bills following Trump’s election. Election law experts have said the constitutionality of such legislation is debatable and would likely elicit court challenges.
Supporters of the New Jersey bill said the issue was transparency. The bill would have required presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their federal income tax returns for at least the five most recent taxable years for which they have filed returns.
In vetoing the bill, Christie "is obsessed with protecting and showing allegiance to President Trump," Assemblyman John McKeon (D., Morris) said in a statement.
"This bill wasn't about President Trump," but "going forward," said McKeon, who sponsored the legislation. "The people of the United States deserve to know where presidential candidates earn their money."
Christie, in his veto message, argued the bill was unconstitutional, saying it “manufactures from whole cloth a qualification for the office of president not found in the United States Constitution, in the hope of scoring cheap political points.”
He also accused lawmakers of hypocrisy for not extending the bill’s requirements to state elected officials. Instead of placing requirements on federal candidates, Christie proposed that legislators instead change state law to make legislative records subject to the Open Public Records Act.