With the introduction of a new California law, President Trump must turn over his tax returns in order to get his name on the California primary ballot, per the Los Angeles Times.
Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law went into effect on Tuesday after passing on a strict party-line vote in Legislature. The law requires all presidential candidates to turn over their tax returns for the past five years by November to be put on the primary ballot in March. Otherwise, beginning in 2024, the law will also require candidates for California governor to hand their tax returns over, as well.
“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 said in a statement, per the Times. “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. The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”
There is sure to be complaints and opposers of the new law, including President Trump, who has been a stickler for not handing over his tax returns. Trump’s reelection campaign manager Tim Murtaugh believes the law violates some 1st Amendment rights.
“The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” Murtaugh said, per the Times. “The bill also violates the 1st Amendment right of association, since California can’t tell political parties which candidates their members can or cannot vote for in a primary election.”
The law caused problems with the Californian GOP prior to being passed, as well. California Republicans claimed the law was purely motivated by hate for Trump.
Nonetheless, the bill doesn’t prohibit candidates who refuse to hand over tax returns from appearing on the statewide ballot in the November 2020 election.
California isn’t the first state to introduce this type of law—18 states across the U.S. have considered the stipulation. While most of those states have been Democrat-run, the concept of the president rethinking his stance on the issue is pretty farfetched. Recently, Trump sued the House of Representatives for obtaining his New York state returns, which were made available under a bill signed earlier this month.
Some law officials are questioning whether the law is for the best, or if it’s even constitutional. UC Irvine election law professor Richard L. Hasen believes the courts will turn to previous fights on ballot qualifications to make their decision. Nonetheless, Hasen believes it may be a bit of a risky law, hypothetically.
“If you think of this purely as a political matter and not a legal matter, what could a Republican legislature in a swing state do to hurt a Democratic presidential candidate’s chance to get on the ballot?” Hasen said, per the Times. “That’s really the Pandora’s box.”