Under new California legislation, President Donald Trump will be required to publicly release his tax returns in order to appear on the state’s 2020 primary ballot.
The legislation was signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, and the bill, known as the “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act,” also requires the release of Internal Revenue Service filings for the past five years, and gubernatorial candidates are also required to comply with the bill.
“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,” said Democrat Gov. Newsom in his signed statement.
“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,” Newsom wrote, adding “the United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement.”
Candidates will be required under the law to submit their tax returns at least 98 days before the primary, to be held on March 3, 2020. Jay Sekulow, a Trump attorney was quick to reply in a statement, “The State of California’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be answered in court.”
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign official claims the law is unconstitutional. “The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” Murtaugh said in a statement. “What’s next, five years of health records?”
In July, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing congressional committees to access Trump’s state tax returns. However, the new Californian law is unlikely to go unchallenged in the courts, as although states can set the time, place, and other details for their elections, the requirements for the president are set by the Constitution.
Previous California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2017, and other states have tried a similar tactic. ”Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?” Brown wrote in his veto message. “Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”