Changes to Trump “Blind Trust” Underscore Need for Tax Return Transparency

California Moving Forward with Bill to Require Trump, Other Candidates to Disclose Tax Returns

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sacramento, CA – A new report from ProPublica has revealed that President Donald Trump quietly changed his “blind trust” arrangement to allow him to pull money from the trust at any time. This revelation highlights the need for tax return transparency.

California State Senator Mike McGuire and Senator Scott Wiener have authored legislation to require candidates for President to disclose five years of tax returns before being allowed on the California ballot. This bill cleared its first hurdle when it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

“President Trump’s trust was never an adequate safeguard against conflicts of interest in the Administration. But this report makes clear that our Chief Executive has skirted the law and benefitted from his shadowy corporate work while serving as our President. Just like every other President in recent history, we need to know now how he is making his money before he begins to receive payouts,” said McGuire.

According to ProPublica, the trust agreement was quietly altered in early February to “distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request.” This trust had already been considered inadequate to most government ethicists as it was managed by his sons and required no divestment of current assets. Now, it’s been weakened even more because Trump will continue to benefit from his business dealings while serving as President. 

McGuire’s legislation, SB 149, creates greater transparency by barring future presidential candidates from appearing on the California ballot unless they release their tax returns to voters. More information can be found here. 

Should Trump release his returns, the public would be able to examine his business associations as well as the timing and amounts of his received trust payouts. Without this disclosure, the public will remain in the dark about the financial dealings of the President.

“Right now, the only ones who are ‘blind’ about Trump’s finances are the American people,” said McGuire. “We have a President who broke with 40 years of tradition to disclose no tax returns, who has given us little information about his business partners – who may include foreign governments or affiliated businesses – and who is now going to regularly be receiving payouts from his shadowy enterprises. We must pass SB 149 to create the real accountability needed for our government to function with the full faith of the American people.”