a candidate cannot be on the ballot for President of the United States in Massachusets if our legislature passes SD 98 unless they comply and disclose their FULL certified and complete tax return –

I have doubts about the constitutionality of this proposal, but it's an interesting thing to talk about. - promoted by david

Who filed it? Senator Mike Barrett – way to go, Mike.

Who co-sponsored it? [If your rep or senator did – call and say thank you and that you hope is passes; if they didn’t, ask if they will vote for it and that you support it. If they say no – ask them why not! With this many sponsors, and NOT requiring funding – I will be shocked and disappointed if this does not pass – but yes, lots of phone calls do help.

Here is the online link to the legislation so you can download it, and confirm its contents if you wish: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/SD98

Here is the link to find their phone numbers; House: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/House
State Senate: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/Senate

The Senator who is the lead sponsor and filer – Michael J. Barrett,Third Middlesex

Co-Sponsers: Denise Provost,27th Middlesex; Chris Walsh,6th Middlesex;Jason M. Lewis,Fifth Middlesex;Ruth B. Balser,12th Middlesex;
Barbara A. L’Italien,Second Essex and Middlesex;Linda Dean Campbell,15th Essex;Harriette L. Chandler,First Worcester;Jay R. Kaufman,
15th Middlesex;Alice Hanlon Peisch,14th Norfolk;Lori A. Ehrlich,8th Essex;Cory Atkins,14th Middlesex;Mark C. Montigny,Second Bristol;James B. Eldridge,Middlesex and Worcester;Sonia Chang-Diaz,Second Suffolk;Patricia D. Jehlen,Second Middlesex;James Arciero,
2nd Middlesex;Carmine L. Gentile,13th Middlesex;Thomas M. Stanley,9th Middlesex;Paul R. Heroux,2nd Bristol;Eileen M. Donoghue,First Middlesex;Jack Lewis,7th Middlesex;Frank I. Smizik,15th Norfolk;Kenneth I. Gordon,21st Middlesex;John W. Scibak,2nd Hampshire;Kay Khan,11th Middlesex;Thomas M. McGee,Third Essex;John J. Lawn, Jr.,Middlesex; Christine P. Barber,34th Middlesex,Edward F. Coppinger;
10th Suffolk,Colleen M. Garry,36th Middlesex;Mary S. Keefe,15th Worcester,Jennifer E. Benson,37th Middlesex;Josh S. Cutler,6th Plymouth,Julian Cyr,Cape and Islands;Harold P. Naughton, Jr.,12th Worcester;Carolyn C. Dykema,8th Middlesex;Sal N. DiDomenico,
Middlesex and Suffolk;Stephen Kulik,1st Franklin;Natalie Higgins,4th Worcester;Kenneth J. Donnelly,Fourth Middlesex;Jay D. Livingstone,8th Suffolk;Jeffrey N. Roy,10th Norfolk;Sean Garballey,23rd Middlesex;Cynthia S. Creem,First Middlesex and Norfolk;
David M. Rogers,24th Middlesex;Jonathan Hecht,29th Middlesex;Elizabeth A. Malia,11th Suffolk;Michelle M. DuBois,10th Plymouth;
Gailanne M. Cariddi,1st Berkshire;Jennifer L. Flanagan,Worcester and Middlesex;SD


SECTION 1. Section 8 of chapter 53 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “filing”, in line 25, the following words:- “, unless the candidate named does not submit tax returns to the state secretary pursuant to section 123 of this chapter”.

SECTION 2. Section 70E of chapter 53 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following three sentences:-

Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, any candidate or potential candidate for the office of president of the United States whose name is set to appear on the presidential primary ballot pursuant to this section shall, no later than five o’clock post meridian on the thirty-first of December, submit to the state secretary a certified and complete copy of that candidate or potential candidate’s federal income tax returns, as defined in section 6103(b)(1) of the United States internal revenue code, for the three most recent available years, as well as written consent to the state secretary for public disclosure of such returns. At least thirty days before the relevant presidential primary, the state secretary shall publish on the state secretary’s website all tax returns submitted pursuant to this section. The names of candidates or potential candidates who decline to submit both said income tax returns and a statement of financial interests filed pursuant to section 5 of chapter 268B shall not appear on the presidential primary ballot.

SECTION 3. Chapter 53 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 123. Not later than the second Tuesday in September immediately preceding a general election, a candidate for the office of president or vice president whose electors have been certified pursuant to section 6 or section 8 of this chapter, shall file with the state secretary a copy of his or her federal income tax returns, as defined in section 6103(b)(1) of the United States internal revenue code, for the five most recent available years, as well as written consent to the state secretary for public disclosure of such returns. At least fifty days before the general election, the state secretary shall publish on the state secretary’s website any and all income tax returns submitted pursuant to this section. The name of any candidate for president who declines to submit both said income tax returns and a statement of financial interests filed pursuant to section 5 of chapter 268B shall not appear on the general election ballot.

SECTION 4. Section 148 of chapter 54 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the second sentence the following sentence:-

No presidential elector shall cast a vote for any person who failed to comply with section 123 of chapter 53 or section 5 of chapter 268B of the General Laws.

SECTION 5. Section 5(a) of chapter 268B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:-

Every candidate for president or vice president of the United States shall file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the commission at least thirty days before the presidential primary.

SECTION 6. The provisions of this act shall be deemed severable. If any part of this act shall be adjudged unconstitutional or invalid, such judgment shall not affect other valid parts thereof.

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.


77 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Check this out. It would have kept Trump off the ballot

    If he did not comply….and if they pass this…

  2. Sets a horrible precedent

    I don’t agree with this at all. It sets a horrible precedent that a state can keep a national candidate off the ballot for what amount to arbitrary reasons.

    What if North Carolina passes such a law that prevents someone from appearing on the ballot if they are in favor of gun control? Or if Utah keeps you off the ballot if you’re not Mormon?

    • Eh

      Those would be unconstitutional.

      • I think this would too.

        Remember the term limits cases for Congress 20 years ago?

        The result was a SCOTUS case that said states don’t get to impose requirements for prospective members of Congress that are more restrictive than those in the US Constitution. I don’t see how a candidate for president differs from a candidate for Congress.

      • Why would those be unconstitutional

        but this wouldn’t? There are pretty severe limits on the extent to which states can limit ballot access for federal candidates.

        • Ugh

          I lost my reply, but a religious standard abridges the freedom of non-Mormons, no?

        • Because this is procedural compliance...

          …that any candidate is reasonably able to execute. Discriminating on the basis of one’s beliefs, whether political or religious, is another thing entirely. States already control ballot access with things such as signature requirements, and this is much more in this category.

    • What's "arbitrary"?

      We already have a rather long list of arcane requirements — signatures, filings, and so on — that states already use to try and keep national candidates off the ballot.

      I see nothing “arbitrary” about this. It is not remotely similar to the strawmen you offer.

      • The dividing line, such as it is,

        is between procedural requirements (like signatures and ministerial paper filings) and substantive qualifications. The Supreme Court rejected a term limits law denying ballot access to candidates who had already served a certain number of terms in Congress. Which side of the line a tax return law would fall is somewhat dubious, but I think there’s a good chance it would fall on the substantive side of the line. You can read the Term Limits case for yourself and decide what you think.

    • nopolitician I would like to see this required for ALL candidates

      Nothing arbitrary about it. No religious. Nor discriminatory.

  3. Awaiting moderation again?

    When is the site going to work again?

  4. Let's start small

    And create a precedent as well that we can point to, so this isn’t only about national candidates but ballot access standards in general.

    Let us enact this bill for all members of the Great and General Court instead of the current ‘range’ reporting. That way, release of tax returns is a requirement in MASSACHUSETTS, regardless of the level of the office.

    • sure...

      Every school committee member, every treasurer, every select(wo)man, every ward member… perfect!

      • I don't think that's necessary...

        …and there’s something to be said for privacy.

        • when you become a public figure you lose your privacy and...

          …have your hands in the public’s money. I consider this directly relevant, non discriminatory, and but a first step.

          • NO!

            Words cannot express how strongly I philosophically disagree with the notion that being a public figure means sacrificing all of your privacy. We will lose potential good candidates that way and it is just wrong. If I’m seeking office my deductions and charitable donations are none of your business. Judge me on my tax and spending proposals, and if I’ve previously or currently hold office, my record. EVERYONE has the right to their private and public lives, and to keep them separate. I don’t think requiring this documentation is unconstitutional, but on the merits there is such a thing as going too far.

            • That's not what she said

              She didn’t say that being a public figure means “sacrificing all your privacy”. She said, instead, that when you have your hands on the public’s money, the public has right to know how you manage money.

              I’m not sure I’d go as far as every school board member. I’m sympathetic to your (Christopher’s) concerns. Nevertheless, I think amberpaw is making an important point. I’m not sure why the deductions and charitable contributions of a school board member are any less my business than those of a candidate for any other office.

              Porcupine proposed that this be applied to all members of the “Great and General Court”. I think that’s a fine idea. I would also include candidates for any federal office.

              • Maybe she didn't say all...

                …but her previous headline clearly says, “when you become a public figure you lose your privacy” and I have a visceral objection to that. There are checks and balances enough that one person’s money management won’t necessarily be an issue, but in a system where private citizens are encouraged to seek office, as opposed to say, hereditary nobility, I think citizens have to enjoy some privacy. I also think some offices are more relevant than others and would be more inclined to favor disclosure for would-be Presidents and Governors than I would legislators.

            • It's just tax returns

              Which any higher ed program, some government assistance programs and even some fellowship and employment opportunities routinely require. It’s pretty silly to force me and other ordinary citizens to “violate” our privacy just to get student loans or unemployment while exempting the wealthiest Americans who are purporting to govern in our name.

              Warren Buffet made the salient and underreported point that another consequence of Trump winning is any billionaire in America is saying “man if he can do it, why not me?”. Schultz and Cuban have already talked about it. We know Bloomberg wants to. I think if they are making the choice to participate in the public arena the public has a right to know. Nobody is forcing these wealthy people to run for office.

              • But your financial status is relevant...

                …to applications for public assistance so that makes a lot more sense.

                • Hypocritical

                  In my judgment, to force the working poor to constantly divulge their health and financial information in order to gain basic assistance while our Presidents many potential conflicts of interest are unknown to us. It matters little to our national security if a drug addict is on welfare or making money under the table, it matters a great deal if our President owes money to/makes money from foreign entities and governments.

                  • With limited resources...

                    …of course it makes sense to try to determine whether the applicant actually needs assistance. Only you brought up health issues.

                    • You're missing my broader point

                      Why is it acceptable that ordinary people who require public assistance lose their right to privacy when it comes to their finances and urine samples while the wealthiest citizens who volunteer for public service are exempted from the basic financial disclosure we’ve expected from them for about a generation? I think this reform would help drain the swamp of this administration while also draining it on Beacon Hill. They are pleasing poverty for their raises aka a public handout-why shouldn’t they prove it like anyone else?

                    • First of all...

                      …they aren’t losing their privacy in the same way. If I submit pay stubs for public assistance to prove I don’t make very much I hope and assume that information remains confidential on a need-to-know basis. If I submit my tax returns for electoral reasons the whole public gets to see my business. Can we leave drug testing out of this for now? That’s a whole other discussion (and I don’t know what the legal requirement is in that regard). Legislators are seeking to raise their SALARIES for services rendered, not a handout.

                    • Yes

                      And they are arguing they need the raise since they are being underpaid relative to the private sector, and that’s why many of them ‘need’ outside work that is more lucrative. Like Garret Bradley. So if they were required to submit their tax returns we could all see how much this outside work paid them, how much they were really paid for their public service, and whether these pay raises were justified. We could then check back in a few years and see if the rate of outside work-the lead justification for this increase-diminished. That would help indicate whether this policy was successful or not.

                      Secondly, it was a matter of course for presidential candidates to release tax returns until Donald Trump. We have no idea what foreign governments, businesses or conflicts of interest he has. And we have a right to know. And I would argue we have a right to know for all our public officials. Let the voters judge-all I’m asking is for everyone to release the same information. I’m not blocking anyone from running. If they want to hide their finances from the voters, they aren’t fit for public office. We extensively used this argument against Trump-how is DeLeo or others lower on the totem poll any different?

                    • In both cases that would not have been my primary argument.

                      I’m not sure what private sector work is directly comparable to legislating, but I do want compensation to be enough that they don’t need another job. I have concerns about Trump in this area specifically because of issues that came out in this campaign. I never cared before and DeLeo is hardly on par with him. I think it is outrageous to say that anyone who wants to keep their personal business to themselves is automatically unfit for office at all levels. If a voter is going to insist on judging anything let him/her take into account the candidate’s decision to disclose.

            • While I think there are or should be some limitations, ones deductions and donations are the voters business

              There are many good women, and men, who have not run for office in part to preserve family privacy – that even includes me, by way of disclosure. Tax returns should be disclosed for any office where tax money is effected by how the office is handled. While it is an unpleasant reality, in fact, whether a candidate has good impulse control – or abuses a partner is relevant to how such a candidate may treat employees and subordinates. Similarly, distractions from family problems can truly impact the ability to serve and voters have a right to know about them.

              • If I may say so...

                …your choosing not to seek office for those reasons is the public’s loss. Something like abuse should show up in court records that are public, and maybe that person should be in jail rather than seeking office anyway. Grover Cleveland was taunted for his questionable personal life (“Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”), but had a stellar public reputation. His opponent James Blaine was the opposite – impeccable personal life but corrupt as all get out. Jefferson almost certainly had Sally Hemings on the side, but was a fine POTUS. Point is, you can’t always accurately judge one side by the evidence from the other so exposing it has no benefit other than to satisfy voyeuristic lusts.

            • PS: As a practical matter, holding office makes you "newsworthy"

              Which means things that an elected or appointed official “do” or a family member “does” – even alledgedly – are likely to turn up in media. As a practical reality, there is significant sacrifice of privacy whenever one becomes a “public figure” and hence, “newsworthy”.

              • And there shouldn't be.

                The most extreme manifestation of this attitude literally KILLED Princess Diana.

                • ?

                  Actually the royal family release its tax returns annually, along with its household expenses. Neither of which killed the people’s princess…

                  • Of course not...

                    …but Diana was subjected to the attitude that because she was a public figure the people somehow owned her, that she was entitled to no private life or privacy whatsoever. I think I said elsewhere that it might make more sense to disclose when your income derives essential from who you are rather than what you do, and so much of what the royal family “owns” actually belongs to the Community of the Realm as opposed to the Windsors personally.

                    • There are several differences

                      Diana’s position did not depend on the voters trust nor did she require or seek their affirmation to continue in that position. Her family’s assets are public information because of their position within the British government, not because they are public figures more broadly. There is a massive difference between elected officials disclosing their financial assets and potential conflicts of interest and tabloids harassing public figures and their private lives.

                      This is about disclosure and transparency in government. I would think you’d be a proponent of those values-you certainly have agreed since the debates that our current President should release his taxes so we can confirm whether or not his financial entanglements with foreign powers jeopardize his standing as President.

      • Chili, I did say the Great and General Court

        That is state senators and state representatives only. And throw in the Constitutional Offices as well.

        It is a typical progressive trick to extrapolate to the nth degree. I am not talking about municipal or county office. IF we want to make this a requirement for Federal offices – and I think that would have to include our two senators and 9 congressional representatives as well – why not make it a requirement for STATE office, to give the movement credibility?

        As far as privacy and intrusion goes, why would it not be a valid excuse valid for all state as well as Federal office? In that case, we can remain opaque for all. I like disclosure for all instead.

        • Personally, I think it's more relevant for some offices than others...

          …and I think the transparency vs. privacy balance logically varies from office to office.

          • Perhaps

            But you have to create a single standard, and it has to be neutral.

            We can’t just require this for one Federal office – if it is for one, it has to be for all. If we want it for Federal office, it makes sense for us to require it of our state office holders as well. Right now, they must make a report only in a VERY broad range, so there is a precedent for individual financial disclosure as a requirement. Why demand a return from one, but not the other?

            You cannot write laws based on who you like and do not like. They need to be neutral to be enforceable. There has to be a neutral standard to enforce ballot access, and that is what we are talking about. You cannot say a friend is entitled to privacy, but an enemy is not. If you try to draw the law that way, it will be tossed as discriminatory.

  5. Not a fan

    Let’s say my spouse, with whom I file a joint return, runs for office. She is a stay at home parent and also performs unpaid volunteer work when she has the time. She has no taxable income. Would this rule require her to produce our joint return, all of the income on which is related to my employment, in order to get on the ballot?

    Let’s say this same woman runs for office, but she is a single parent that doesn’t work and doesn’t make enough income to require her to file a federal tax return. Would this rule exclude her from the ballot because she has filed no tax returns during the relevant reporting period?

    Tax returns don’t reveal how wealthy you are or how you manage your money or how much your true economic income is. I think tax return disclosure should remain optional. Let the voters decide if it is relevant to the fitness of a candidate.

    • Then Trump gets away Scott free. So does DeLeo

      The former has a litany of potential conflicts we can never know about, particularly business dealings with foreign governments that may undermine our security. DeLeo and his cronies just gave themselves a raise while in the same session cutting social services and making EBT recipients face harsher scrutiny. They plead poverty and the need to take on additional jobs as the main reason for the raise-releasing these returns would seem to shed sunlight on whether those claims match reality. It also subjects them to the same standards they are imposing on our poorest citizens.

  6. Not everyone files a tax return--how does this bill provide for those people?

    For example, Steven Pierce ran for governor some years ago and it came out that he had not filed a tax return. If I remember right he did not have to file a tax return, since he did not owe taxes, ie. if anything he was due a refund.
    Also, many poor people do not file tax returns. Would this bill exclude them from running for office?
    It would be pretty easy to remedy this problem if a candidate were allowed to simply file an affidavit saying that they did not file a tax return. I didn’t see such language in the bill– did I miss something?

    • Federal 1040 is compulsory

      Your memory is apparently faulty.

      First, the federal income tax is compulsory for anyone with more than minimal threshold of income. Mr. Pierce, as candidate, was well above that threshold.

      During a debate, Mr. Pierce himself answered a direct question as follows (emphasis mine):

      Christopher Lydon: Mr. Pierce, you’ve been in the news over the weekend for nonpayment or late payment or late filing of your tax returns. Was this a device to win the hearts and minds of the anti-govemment voters out there?

      Stephen Pierce: No.

      Lydon: I know you have said that it was not a matter of saving money. They withheld your taxes so it was a matter of filing a piece of paper. The general question I’d like you to address is what is the responsibility of public officials, especially governors, to set an example in matters like this?

      Pierce: I truly am glad you asked me the question because it is a question that I recognize that I must and can address. I knew that simply disclosing my tax returns, which I did voluntarily, would occasion those questions. In previous debates I have focused very specifically on the state budget and so forth. I think I am recognized as having talked very specifically about it. On more than one occasion I have been referred to by one of my other Republican competitors as a “bean counter having the soul of an accountant.” I think I’ve put that charge to rest once and for all.

      In all seriousness, and it is a serious matter, I have apologized for it and do recognize it as a serious mistake. It was not a question of late payment of taxes and not a question of non-payment of taxes. Taxes were paid. It was refunds that were to be claimed that I delayed in claiming thinking—wrongly—that it was completely all right to do that. In fact it appears it was a violation of the law, for which there was no penalty. Nevertheless, it was a violation of the law. It is important for public officials to set an example. It’s for that reason that I am most regretful because I have worked very hard in my private life, and particularly in my public life, to set an example.

      As a state representative for twelve years I have a strong record, of which I am very proud, of answering people’s telephone calls, taking care of their problems, casting thousands of roll call votes on difficult issues, and debating those issues for hundreds of hours on the House floor. I am putting that public record on the line. I recognize that when you run for governor, want to be the chief executive officer of the state, there are certain things about even your private affairs that the news media and through them the public have a right to know. Nevertheless, I decided to run and to bring forward those matters because I felt, and certainly hope that most people agree, that all those things should be put into context, that my foolish inattention to a private personal matter should be weighed against the serious and strong commitment to principles to which I’ve adhered as a public official. I think and I hope that people will do that.

      Three comments:
      1. It was illegal for Mr. Pierce to not file his returns.
      2. Mr. Pierce disclosed his materials anyway.
      3. Mr. Pierce clearly states his belief that the public has a right to know “even your private affairs”. This right is what the contemplated language belatedly enshrines in law.

      I’m confident that the sponsors of the bill are amenable to language that limits the requirement so that it applies only to candidates who are legally required to file tax returns.

    • Two ways

      First, a person with income below the statutory level is not required to file a return, but they CAN still file one even if it is just pro forma to demonstrate that they owe no tax. This would also cover the stay at home parent scenario outlined above, if the two filed separate returns (spouses do not HAVE to file joint returns).

      Or, they could sign a statement under Pains and Penalties that they do not have the requisite taxable income.

      I prefer the former.

      BTW, there are no charitable deductions on a MA tax return. because MA does not have a charitable deduction.

  7. I never cared until Trump.

    When Romney was running I rolled my eyes at what seemed to be a gotcha exercise, and said that if this is what we really think is a good idea just require it by law and be done with it. That said, I’m not 100% sure it’s a great idea. Maybe investment disclosure is more important than taxes, or a very basic rundown of one’s income sources. Maybe it should be only for people worth over a certain amount who are in a position to make mischief. I just wish there were some way we could find out what we need to find out when there is legitimate cause for concern without forcing every citizen who might want to serve in local elective office to have to choose between public service and privacy.

    • But sunlight is the best disinfectant

      If they are concerned the public would lose their trust if they disclosed their personal finances than perhaps they were not worthy of it in the first place.

      • Just remember that . . .

        . . .next time you’re tempted to go all negative on Assange and Wikileaks.

        • Apples and oranges bob

          I’ve never argued Wikileaks is all evil. But unlike actual journalists or whistle blowers-they aren’t exposing a particular unlawful program but rather exposing all classified information they can get their hands on to cause the most possible disruption to the world order. Sometimes this means they do expose things the public has a right to know about.

          But often it exposes other things the public does not have a right to know about-like what John Podesta cooks for dinner or what DNC staffers privately thought about Bernie Sanders. It’s hard to argue how any of that was in the public interest and it certainly serves the interests of Putin who likely provided the information and the Trump campaign which directly benefited and which has been the most aggressive administration to date towards the press and leakers. Hard to see more sunlight resulting from their actions there.

          • Point of order

            We don’t necessarily get to decide what serves the public, when it comes to leaks. Bernie Sanders supporters were clearly interested in the DNC stuff. I don’t think they mind that it was leaked,

            • I'm a Sanders supporter who minds

              Since foreign intelligence deliberately interfering with our election systems is a greater crime (and an actual one) than the ham handedness of DWS’ DNC chairmanship. Anyone who doesn’t recognize this is still blinded by bitterness from a primary that our candidate lost legitimately. Granted-would I feel the same way if an outraged DNC staffer blew the whistle? Maybe since it would still have hurt Clinton against Trump, but I’d view the source as a legitimate one unlike a Russian spy master.

              Wikileaks is irresponsible since it doesn’t care about the consequences of its actions or the motives of its sources. That doesn’t mean they are always wrong-a nihilist is right twice a day and maybe more. But Assange doesn’t have the public interest in mind.

              • That is the precise opposite of the argument that was used against Assange.

                He was accused of not releasing everything he could get his hands on, but releasing only the information that was damaging to Hillary Clinton.
                You (and I) may not like the consequences of Assange’s leaking, and we both may be thrilled that Flynn was torpedoed by these latest leaks. But you haven’t yet made a distinction that makes any sense.

                • There is a distinction that makes sense-the source

                  The Flynn leaks came from our own government and serve the public interest. That’s whistle blowing. So was Ellsberg and so was Snowden. Specific leaks targeting specific instances of government cover ups vital to the public interest.

                  The Vietnam War was lost and voters had a right to know. The NSA program as illegal and voters had a right to know. Our national security advisor lied to the Vice President and violated several laws-the public has a right to know.

                  Manning was not whistle blowing since she indiscriminately leaked the entire State Dept internal wire releasing everything. Some state secrets need to stay secret. We all agree it was wrong for Rove to out Valerie Plame as a covert agent as political retaliation-I don’t recall the left citing an unlimited right to know then. We also probably wish that Iranian and North Korean diplomats our government was working with to liberalize those regimes were purged. We also probably wish troop movements and covert agents overseas didn’t have their cover blown. In this case the leaks undermined our national security and endangered our troops-they did not serve the public interest.
                  All you can cite is one war crime that was already under investigation-and Manning would’ve been in the right had she decided just to leak that.

                  But neither she nor Assange makes distinctions. Except the one time Assange did without information and it unmasked his hypocrisy and true intentions-to help the global alt right destroy the deep state and enable the alt right to come to power. He worked with foreign intelligence agencies to get that information in violation of international law and the public did not have a right to know and the public interest in a free and fair election was subverted by this foreign interference he enabled.

                  I make a clear distinction-I don’t understand how you and Jim cannot. My take is nuanced and comes with a deep understanding of how classified information works and is decided. My take argues that it’s an extraordinary act that should only be undertaken when our civil liberties are threatened or when our policy makers are lying to us about something we need to know-such as the justification for war or crimes committed in our name.

                  • What distinctions do you make?

                    It seems you both take the extreme position that no state secret is ever justified. Using that logic we should’ve told the newspapers (and the Germans) we had cracked Enigma. Using that logic, we should’ve told the newspapers (and the Japanese) we had cracked the secrets to the atom bomb.

                    I have consistently recognized Russia as a threat to Americas vital interests since the Georgia War. I said at the time Romney was right and Obama was wrong when he identified it as our greatest geopolitical threat. Now they have interfered with our elections and worked with one of our political parties to select our President. This is an incredibly dangerous time for the United States and I for one am grateful our intelligence community puts loyalty to country over loyalty to the President.

                    • For starters, let me distinguish between the secrets of the A-Bomb and what John Podesta

                      had for breakfast.
                      You don’t have a “deep understanding” of how classified information, or the world in general works. You seem to have a fixed idea of inevitable conflict with Russia, and you seem to want to judge the public interest accordingly.
                      There’s a difference between “sunlight is the best disinfectant”,and thinking the world revolving around you.

                    • Cherry picking one of my examples doesn't answer the question

                      Where would you draw a distinction? How is Russia not a foreign power seeking to do America and her interests harms? Where has Wikileaks served the public interest and how are you defining it? I laid out a nuanced case in my longer post and I am interested in hearing your counter arguments to that.

                    • And then Podesta emails do matter

                      Since the source of a leak was a foreign intelligence agency deliberately interfering in our elections, it may have swayed votes, and obtaining that information required illegal hacking that violated domestic and international law.

      • And that's the crux of our dispute.

        You are coming at this with the assumption that there is anything to disinfect. Although she and I have quibbled around the edges regarding how to apply it, at least the OML that Amberpaw so forcefully advocates for is about shedding light on the PUBLIC business in which our officials engage. At this stage in my life my tax returns are snoozers, but yes I might be concerned that the public may misinterpret something or choose to judge something that maybe is perfectly legitimate. In fact, I recall Al Gore taking political flak for supposedly not donating enough to charity, at least as reflected in the deductions he took. Well guess what, either he’s a bit stingy which is his right without the public passing judgement or he takes to heart Matthew 6:2-4 and chooses not to take the deduction (and consequently gives more than he needs to to Uncle Sam which could be spun positively. Frankly, you are starting to sound like the juror who would hold it against a defendant if he invoked his 5th amendment rights.

        • Not really

          This has nothing to do with the 5th and 4th amendments. Functionally candidates for office are voluntarily surrendering some level of privacy when they seek the public recognition required to obtain public offices. All I am saying is that the long standing bipartisan tradition of releasing tax returns be codified in law due to the egregious precedent of Donald Trump withholding that information from the public, and maybe extending it to all levels of government is the fairest and least partisan way to accomplish this.

          • And there may be limited merit to that...

            …but what I have such a visceral reaction to is your notion that any person who does not wish to divulge this information is inherently unfit for office. It’s like Dick Cheney saying with reference to the PATRIOT ACT, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

          • Plus...

            …there are a lot of things we DO learn about candidates, but that doesn’t mean we SHOULD IMO – medical records, affairs, for example. Just give me a list of the candidate’s positions and any previous record in public office so I can make a decision on relevant facts only. No, I don’t believe in giving the voters everything and trusting them to decide on trivia. Too many of them just vote on whom they want to have a beer with anyway:(

            • Two replies

              1) we are talking about tax returns

              That’s all I am interested in and arguing for. I have no interest in any of the other tings you keep mentioning so I’m not going to respond to them. If you give me a compelling reason why hiding tax returns for Donald Trump makes sense, let me know.

              2) Cheney example

              A broken clock is right twice a day. Trump has to be hiding something, if he had nothing to hide he would release his returns like every other major party candidate in the last four decades since Watergate and Agnew.

              • If you don't want be arguing other things...

                …then please don’t make blanket statements disqualifying any person who is not keen on showing the whole world his business. Right now my position is if I were in the legislature I would be open to voting for it if we limited it to presidential candidates and more reluctant if it were amended to grab all candidates for all offices in its dragnet.

                • I'm not disqualifying anyone

                  Other than people unwilling to release their tax returns. I am not sure why this is such a hard concept for you to understand or why it’s so controversial. What legitimate reasons are there for a candidate for office to hide their tax returns? And why should a qualification we demand if a higher office be exempted for a lower one? You have yet to answer either question-and I’m pen to counter arguments.

                  Trump is violating unwritten rules at an alarming pace and we are going to have to start codifying these unwritten rules as written law to keep up.

                  • You're disqualifying anyone who cares about their privacy.

                    You are, you know. You just don’t think that people who might otherwise be willing to seek public office have a legitimate interest in the kind and amount of privacy they’d lose by releasing their tax returns that’s sufficient to outweigh the public interest in forcing them to do so.

                    Christopher is arguing that personal privacy is itself a legitimate reason why a candidate for public office might want not to divulge their returns. I agree with him. Reasonable minds may differ, but I’m not sure why you absolutely rule out the idea that someone with nothing at all shameful in their financial affairs might nevertheless feel strongly about not having them become public knowledge. Privacy is an old-fashioned kind of value, but some of us still do care intensely about it — enough so that the requirement would dissuade some people from seeking office.

                    And one reason we might demand a higher degree of disclosure for a higher office is obvious enough, I’d have thought. The higher office comes with a significantly higher amount of potential damage that can be done by a successful candidate. We have a higher stake, collectively, in knowing that there’s nothing too troubling in a president’s financial past than we have in getting the same assurance from a candidate for Chicopee city council. We’re balancing interests, and the balance between those interests shifts from one case to the other. You may feel that it doesn’t shift enough to make a determinative difference, but again, this is one where reasonable people can make different calls. And are likely to depending on their personal values.

                    I suspect it’s like the whole tangled web of surveillance and privacy issues that way. If you don’t care about privacy, you probably don’t think it’s a big deal to give all of it up in the name of even marginally greater safety; if you do care, a call to give it up is a dealbreaker under any but the most compelling circumstances. Values differences aren’t always resolvable by reason and conversation, but that doesn’t mean people who disagree with you don’t understand the points you’re making.

                    • Thanks mimolette for a worthy counter argument

                      Again-I am only asking for tax returns. My own payroll from the UIP was public information and was even briefly a topic of dispute on this forum; public officials in the Commonwealth have their salaries public as well. All this would do is let us know what outside income our potential public servants are getting and what charitable donations they made. Political donations are already public knowledge so we know already know who donates to them and who they donate too. In my view, this is just another piece of the puzzle to complete the the picture to maximize disclosure and transparency.

                      The security/privacy debate isn’t relevant here since private citizens and elected officials are fundamentally different persons. A private citizen has a reasonable expectation that their privacy is protected. An elected official is already giving up privacy by virtue of the public notoriety that position entails-and doing so voluntarily. They can’t have it both ways.

                      My method is far less arbitrary than disadvantaging candidates like Clinton or Romney who release their returns while allowing a norm violator like Trump to refuse disclosure. This change allows the letter of the law to finally conform to the spirit on this issue. Had Trump upheld norms we wouldn’t have to do this. He won’t and following his lead-few will in the future.

                    • There is much more legitimate interest...

                      …in the revenues and outlays of political parties, as well as the salaries being paid to legislators by the taxpayers. I have a fundamental disagreement with the idea that “private citizens and elected officials are fundamentally different persons.” I thought the whole point of a government defined as of, by, and for the people meant that they are if anything fundamentally the same. I absolutely believe there is such a thing as having it both ways. Every single one of us has the right to decide which parts of our lives will be public and which will be private, even (and maybe especially to guard against those who might do harm) those of us who stick our necks out and put our names on the ballot.

                    • Most public employees in MA have their salaries published

                      What privacy? At town meeting, the salary of municipal employees – with names and dollar amounts – are published in warrants. In cities, the information is public and available at the city treasurer’s office. It is all public record. Likewise retirees – read the database in the Herald. So why not legislators as well? We know their state salaries already.

                      I am fascinated by the implications that conflict of interest is important only if there is lots of money involved. A school committee member can be just as careless as a senator. It is the corruption, not the money ivolved.

                    • Yes, their PUBLIC salaries are published.

                      That makes sense. Taxpayers should know how their money’s being spent, including on compensation. My reluctance is regarding the non-public side.

                    • But that's where the potential conflicts of interest are!

                      My reluctance is regarding the non-public side.

                      It would let us know federally what Trump really owes to or profits from Russia; locally it would let us know exactly what all those outside jobs pay, who pays them, and whether these raises-which you and others cited as the main rationale for the raise-actually deter them from taking on outside jobs. So actually locally you are deliberately asking not to know how your money is being sent by holding to this standard. You’ll have no idea of testing whether the raises did what you said they would do.

                      It’s voluntary. You’re losing as much privacy as you are willing to lose in the name of getting elected. I would argue this disclosure is in the public interest and far less intrusive than other losses of privacy public officials are already subjected to.

                    • I'd rather ban outside income...

                      …and in the case of our legislature raise the salaries such that it is all the income they need. All I need to know is what a legislator’s salary is. It’s no more my business how s/he spends that salary than it would be for anyone else.

                    • I'm fine with that compromise

                      The need for outside income is the main reason they cited for the raise and the main area potential conflicts of interest could occur. By banning outside work we ban the conflict. I still think there may be other areas where transience would help (charities, real estate and other and investments); but to Mimolettes point the ‘low’ salary already discourages some people from running (like our own Mark Bail) and the invasion of privacy discouraged others like AmberPaw and possibly yourself. So I could live with this.

                      The impact investments, particularly international ones might have at the federal level make this essential to know for voters to evaluate a potential President. And I would argue on the state level for a Governor, and our members of Congress. Since the other statewide officers are directly leading regulatory bodies it also seems rather germaine.

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