Bill Moving Through California Legislature That Would Keep President Trump Off Primary Ballot Unless He Releases Tax Returns

May 28, 2019 Updated: May 28, 2019

After passing the California Senate in a 27-10 vote, a bill that would require all presidential candidates to publicly release the past five years of their income tax returns in order to appear on all future presidential primary ballots has moved to the state Assembly.

On May 28, the bill’s authors, State Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), announced that amendments were added to SB 27 that would require gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns.

The legislation, also known by its formal name the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, would make the returns public on the California secretary of state’s website.

While not stating President Trump by name in the legislation, the authors of the bill have made it clear that they are mainly targeting the President with the bill.

“This President continues to make decisions that undermine our national security interests,” said Senator Wiener in a statement. “We deserve to know what is compelling him to take these bizarre actions. Requiring presidential candidates to disclose basic financial information is a common sense step that builds trust between the American people and our elected leader.”

The legislation also includes an urgency clause so that it would take effect immediately upon being signed into law, so that it could become law in time for the 2020 elections.

In at least 20 other states, bills have been introduced that would require all presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to be on the presidential primary ballot, although none have yet become law.

California’s bill is expected to pass in the state Assembly, which has a 61-19 Democratic supermajority.

Governor Gavin Newsom has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation or not. His predecessor, Jerry Brown, who didn’t release his own tax returns, vetoed similar legislation in 2017.

Jim Stanley, a spokesman from the office of California Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) told The Epoch Times, “Jerry Brown didn’t release his tax returns and the Democrats didn’t have a problem with that,” he added.

When asked about how the votes would look on the Assembly floor and whether it would fall along party lines, Stanley responded, “There [are] potentially some Assembly Democrats that aren’t planning on releasing their tax returns. This might put them in a tricky situation.”

As to whether Gov. Newsom would sign the legislation into law or veto like his predecessor, he said that it’s difficult to know. “Newsom plays his cards close to his chest,” he said.

Questions of the bill’s constitutionality have been raised, since no stipulations requiring a candidate’s financial information are in the Constitution.

However, states are allowed to regulate the manner of elections, such as requiring a minimum number of signatures for candidates to appear on the state ballot. This leaves SB 27 in a legal gray area.

The bill has been referred to the state Assembly and is currently under review by the Elections and Redistricting Committee pending a vote. If passed by the committee, it will go the Assembly floor for a full vote, then to Gov. Newsom’s desk.