Tag Archives: Presidential Primary

Require Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns

Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during the 2016 Presidential Election has spurned a lot of attention and effort to require future candidates running for President to release their tax returns. Below is some relevant background material on the status of efforts to change this in 2020 and beyond.

“In polls, the populace wants disclosure of the president’s tax returns 67%-24% with some polls showing that 64% of Republican’s desire disclosure.”

Forbes, President Trump and Tax Return Privacy, April 5, 2018

Candidates who won’t disclose taxes shouldn’t be on ballot, Lawrence H Tribe, Richard W Painter, and Norman L Eisen, CNN, April 14, 2017

Sign Here – Change.org petition – We want to see Trump’s tax returns.

Can States Ban Trump From the Ballot If He Doesn’t Release His Tax Returns?  New Republic,  March 7, 2018

Maryland Senate Bill 256, March 1, 2018 passed State Senate

Md Senate Passes Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns, NPR, March 6, 2018

Rhode Island -2018 – S 2612 Substitute A June 19, 2018 passed State Senate

Rhode island latest state to try and fail to force Trump to release his tax returns, CNN Politics, June 22, 2018

New Jersey – 2017 – S 3048, passed 2017 by Legislature, vetoed by Governor Christie

Christie vetoes Trump-inspired bill to require tax returns, Matt Friedman, Politico, May 1, 2017

Oregon – Proposed Law would make Trump reveal his tax returns to be on Oregon’s 2020 ballot, Oregonlive.com, Jan 24, 2018

California – California’s Brown Vetoes Requirement that Presidential Candidates Release tax Returns , Common Cause, Oct. 16, 2017

Obama Still Top Fundraiser Despite Clinton’s Latest Efforts

To date Barack Obama has raised some $75 million in his quest for the Presidency. Hillary Clinton has raised $63 million – some $12 million less.

Much hoopla is being raised about the fact that Clinton raised some $3 million more in the third quarter numbers through September 30th than Obama did. The New York Times claims in its headline that “Clinton Steals Obama’s Fund Raising Thunder” But one can look at these numbers in different ways. Hillary’s figure go from $20 million to $22 million to $23 million for the three quarters of this year. Pretty consistent numbers.

Barack’s number go from $25 million to $31 million to $19 million. In my mind $19 million is pretty close to $22 million. A shift in momentum -maybe but he is keeping pace with Hillary despite lower third quarter numbers and is still the overall leader in fundraising. In addition he has some 140,000 more new donors than Hillary does.

In reality both candidates are to be commended for their strong campaigns, reaching out to new donors and continuing to show fundraising strength. Individual donors are limited to $2100 for the primary election. An additional $2100 individual contribution can be made for the general election. Both Obama and Clinton have raised additional cash (beyond the figures reported above for the primary) which can only be used for the general election. Whoever loses will have to return these funds to the donors.

When all is said and done, summer is a hard time for any candidate to raise money. The remaining quarter before the caucuses and primaries start in January will be a real measure of whether a significant change has taken place. Once the primaries and caucuses start all bets are off as voting results will skew fundraising momentum day to day.

CNN politics reports that John Edwards came in third in fundraising with $7 million raised for the third quarter. Bill Richardson reports that he raised $5.2 million.

Official 3Q fundraising reports for all candidates are due on October 15th and are filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

In truth the public deserves better reporting than the current system requires. All candidates should be required to file monthly reports rather than quarterly reports. Washington State has had monthly reporting for a number of years, with reports due by the 10th of each month. See Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

Monthly reporting would give the public quicker access to campaign finance records and more accountability on who’s supporting campaigns.

Washington State Presidential Primary – Feb 19, 2008

Will Washington State play a role in deciding who the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are? Looks like you’ll get two chances to voice your preferences after the big “Feb. 5th Super Tuesday” vote.

A bipartisan committee to set the date for the Washington State Presidential Primary picked Feb. 19, 2008 as the date to allow Washington voters to cast ballots for a Democratic or Republican candidate for President. The Republicans will allocate 50% of their delegates based on this vote. Democratic leaders, who don’t get it, will allocate none. Instead they will only choose delegates based on the selections coming out of the party caucuses on February 9, 2008.

While I am a Democrat, I do not support the caucus system to allocate delegates to candidates. I believe it is the antithesis of what the party should stand for. The party should stand for a selection process that provides maximum access to the voting public to participate.The caucus does not do that.

Just think about it. If you want to get maximum voter participation why would you set up a system that does not allow for absentee voting? You must physically be present at a caucus to have your vote count. Who does that eliminate? Lots of people – like those that have to work that day. This includes public servants like policemen and firemen and bus drivers. It includes the elderly or infirm that vote by absentee because it is difficult or impossible for them to physically attend.

Also excluded from the caucuses are college students registered to vote in Washington state but who are out of state as well as members of the armed services who are either on duty or are out of state.

Excluded are people who are essential caregivers of others, like hospital and health care workers, childcare workers or parents who are not able to leave alone or bring their children or their elderly parents.

People who are out of state on vacation or business can not vote in caucuses.

All in all it is not a very convenient system, fair or representative of the potential voting population of our state. And it does not reflect on the ability of the candidates to appeal to this larger voting population to turn out to vote in a general election in November that will be largely votes cast with mail in ballots.

Maybe one of these years the party elite will get it. In the meanwhile we will this next year have two chances to participate in expressing our preferences for Presidential candidates. It will be interesting to see the difference in vote totals and candidate preferences between the primary and caucus.

Again for the record, I was the campaign director for Initiative 99 which set up the Presidential Primary in Washington State law in 1989.

See related articles:

Seattle PI A Primary with Meaning 6/11/2007

Horsesass.org WSRP dicks play hardball 6/11/2007

WA Secretary of State Date set for 2008 Presidential Primary 6/11/2007

WashBlog Republicans were trying to make a point with primary vote 6/11/2007

Seattle PI State Primary is Moved to Feb.19 6/12/2007

Seattle Times Presidential Primary in State to be Feb 19 6/12/2007

Presidential Primary Makes Sense

Ever sense I can remember Washington State Democrats have touted the caucus system as their chosen method to select a Presidential candidate and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. I am a Democrat and have participated in the caucus. But I have never bought the argument that it represents grassroots participation at its best or that it is fair.

It is particularly the fairness issue that has disturbed me. This time around it is going to be held on a Saturday and in the past has been on a weekday night. Irregardless it doesn’t work as the best way to maximize participation in the process of selecting a Presidential candidate to represent our party.

Figures on the Washington Secretary of State’s website regarding participation are a strong reason for concern.

Only 2% of voters generally participate in political party caucuses. An estimated 60,000 people participated in the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
By contrast, with a 42% turnout, 1,309,367 voters participated in the 2000 Presidential Primary. “

The caucus is a process that knowingly excludes participation by many Washington voters It is not a fair system. Many voters are denied access to participate even if they want to. Some prime examples of those excluded include:

  • people in the military who are on duty, out of state or out of the country
  • people who have to work like policemen and firemen or hospital workers
  • students who are Washington voters but are out of state
  • people out of state for business or vacation
  • people who vote absentee because they are elderly or handicapped
  • people who have to take care of young children or elderly parents who can’t travel
  • people whose jobs require they work on caucus day or lose pay

These people could participate in a presidential primary that allowed them to mail in their ballots. We see by the example of our current President just how important it is that we get people involved in selecting the next commander in chief. Yet the caucus is a system that benefits party insiders who are willing to not just attend the initial precinct caucus but go to the legislative district, county, Congressional and state convention.

Unfortunately at any subsequent step if the delegate selected at the precinct level does not attend the next level your representation for your candidate is lost. Likewise if there is not 15% representation at the precinct level or subsequent levels your candidate delegates are lost.

A second major reason to support the Presidential Primary is that it, and not the caucus,is a better and more realistic organizing tool for Democratic politics. The Presidential Primary is a trial run for candidates to turn out voters to support them and more accurately reflects the actual pool of voters
who will be voting in November Presidential election.
There is a big difference in mobilizing 1% of the voters to turn out for a Democratic caucus versus trying to get the a majority of registered voters to vote for you in a primary.
For the record, it should be noted that in 1988 I was the Campaign Director that coordinated the grassroots citizen’s effort to collect the signatures on Initiative 99 to the Washington State Legislature. The Legislature in 1989 passed the initiative into law. The law can be seen at RCW 92A.56.010 Signatures were collected by volunteers not paid signature gatherers.

additional information:

Seattle Times 4/28/2007 “A Presidential Primary that Matters to Voters”

Seattle PI Blog 4/26/2007 “State Republicans to Dems: Let’s get behind Primary

Seattle Times 4/25/2007 “Keep our Presidential Primary by Barbara Seitle, President LWV of WA

WashBlog 4/9/2007 “Washington needs to hold a Presidential Primary

Senator Bayh Exits Presidential Race, Edwards Edges Closer

Two weeks ago Indiana Senator Evan Bayh announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President in 2008. I watched him on one of the Sunday news programs and wondered where the fire in the belly was. Well now the fire is definitely out. He has decided not to run according to today’s Washington Post.

One reason – after spending two years and raising some $5 million dollars – a trip to New Hampshire netted small crowds while Senator Barack Obama coming to New Hampshire packed in the crowds.

As Bayh said, ‘”The odds were always going to be very long for a relatively unknown candidate like myself, a little bit like David and Goliath,” Bayh said in the statement. He added that beyond the question of “whether there were too many Goliaths or whether I’m just not the right David,” his chances were slim.

Democrat Bayh joins two other Democrats, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold, in withdrawing from the 2008 Presidential race.

Meanwhile Democrat and former Senator John Edwards says he will make an announcement before the end of the year. When Senator Edwards was in Seattle at the beginning of December he said he had truly not made up his mind. He did a book signing at the University Bookstore on Dec 2, 2006 and acknowledged that he had to make a decision soon.

Edwards acknowledged that it was a mistake when he voted for the Iraq War. I would say that the mistake was voting to give Bush carte blanche, another President might have used the vote more seriously to get international involvement in resolving the situation. He called the present choices bad and worse.

When asked by a precocious 9 year old in the audience what the first thing he would do as President, Edwards noted that there were a lot of important things that needed to be dealt with like energy independence, health care and poverty. But he said the single biggest project was to “restore America’s ability to lead the world.”

Edwards said we live in a dangerous, chaotic world. He said if we look at the last 6 years it is clear that “raw power alone doesn’t make you a leader.”

The 9 year old responded that Edwards sounded like Jimmy Carter, who said “make peace, not war”.

And this is where I lost Edwards, because Edwards told the boy he was correct but he would add that in order to have the ability to lead the world, the world would have to see us as a moral country. We would have to be a defender of human rights, not an offender. Edwards said America was a light when he was growing up but that is not the case today.

Edwards said the world needs to see our better angels. He said the President needs to travel to other parts of the world and both listen and speak to people – show them that we care. We have an enormous responsibility to the world according to Edwards because we are the richest nation in the world.

Why did I lose Edwards here? Maybe its because it sounded pretty paternalistic and messianic. Was he trying to atone for Bush’s mistakes and his when he voted to support Bush on Iraq. Senator Fullbright years ago called it the arrogance of power – that America knows what is best for everyone else. Edwards vision of the President and America leading the world was what got us into Iraq.

I don’t support terrorism or the use of violence to achieve political ends. And I don’t support what some have distorted the Islamic religion to say, that makes women non-citizens and that kills teachers and doctors and other to further their power. The problems are real and the threats are real. I just don’t think we need another foreign policy that makes America a leader.
What we need is a President that respects other nations and their sovereignty. We need to be a nation among nations, not an angel leading others in the world.

We can do more to lead the world by setting a good example and getting our own house in order like by becoming energy self sufficient and not make countries whose internal and external polices we disagree with, wealthy from our money by buying their oil. Bush is making this country economically unstable by both expending our capital and human lives on someone else’s civil war and by sending American capital to other nations for products like oil that we could do without if we change our profligate ways.

The world and the US would be much more secure if instead of spending the billions we spent in Iraq for war, we had it for energy independence within our own nation. Having higher fuel efficiency standards which Bush opposed would help. Increasing energy efficiency would help. Building green buildings would help. More windmills would help. Solar energy.

Maybe I’m over reacting. You tell me. I know Edwards is a good man and that he cares but I hope Edwards gets a better spin on what he sees the Presidency is about before the next time a 9 year old asks him what the first thing is that he would do as President. The vision thing is important.

Edwards’ book unfortunately doesn’t help explain Edwards much since it is a book of essays he edited. The book is called “Home: The Blueprints of our Lives” It is not a vision for a future America or the world as seen by John Edwards. It does not tell us how to get out of Iraq or how to end terrorism around the world or how to feed kids or provide for a good education or eradicate disease. And that is what we need to hear about now from someone who wants to be President.

We don’t need a drinking buddy for President like Bush sold many people on – we need someone willing to lead and propose solutions and answers to real problems facing America and the world.