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Trump Must Disclose Tax Returns to Get on California Primary Ballot

July 30, 2019 by Dan McCue
U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters before departing the White House May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press

WASHINGTON – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law Tuesday that would require President Trump — or any other candidate — to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on California’s primary ballot.

The law, which was introduced by Democratic State Senators Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener, and approved by the legislature in a party-line vote last month, requires all presidential and gubernatorial candidates to disclose the past five years’ worth of tax returns 98 days prior to the election in order to appear on a primary ballot.

As he signed the bill Tuesday morning, Newsom said he agreed with its sponsors’ contention that “California has a strong interest in ensuring that its voters make informed, educated choices in the voting booth.”

“As one of the largest economies in the world and home to one in nine Americans eligible to vote, California has a special responsibility to require this information of presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” the governor continued.

“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence,” he said. “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interests.”

The law is likely to be quickly challenged in the courts.

In a statement, the president’s reelection campaign said the new law is blatantly unconstitutional, violating candidate’s First Amendment right of association.

But Newsom was unbowed.

“In October of 2018, the Brennan Center’s National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy, a bipartisan group of former public servants and policy experts, recommended that Congress standardize and codify the longstanding practice of tax return disclosure by sitting presidents, vice presidents, and candidates for those offices to assist voters and deter corruption. I agree. This law should be a national standard,” he said. 

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