On Thursday, the California state Senate took a shot at President Trump, passing a bill that would require presidential candidates to release five years' worth of income tax returns or not appear on the primary ballot.
As AP reported, a similar bill was passed in 2017, but Gov. Jerry Brown, who himself would not release his tax returns while in office, vetoed the bill, claiming it was unconstitutional. Brown stated, "Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? 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?"
But new California Governor Gavin Newsom may well sign the bill, which is coauthored by state Sen. Mike McGuire and state Sen. Scott Wiener, who authored the 2017 bill.
In 2017, McGuire stated, "For decades, every president has put their personal beliefs aside and put our country first and released their returns. The American people shouldn’t be in the dark about their president’s financial entanglements." Wiener added, "This bill is about giving the American people the honesty and transparency they deserve from anyone who wishes to serve as their president.”
This week, McGuire stated, “We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns.” He said recently, “President Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns has broken a time-honored, bipartisan tradition which has weakened our democracy and his jaw dropping business conflicts have now put the security of our nation at risk.”
Last December, McGuire ranted, “Voters not only deserve full disclosure of their leader’s tax returns, they should be entitled to them. If President Trump had released his tax returns we would know why he’s ignoring intelligence agencies and snuggling up to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who has been linked to the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Transparency is a nonpartisan issue and it’s time to put the speculation to bed and bring to light any conflicts of interest that could drive an American president into the arms of a foreign power. It’s time to make President Trump’s tax returns public.”
Newsom spokesman Brian Ferguson said the bill “would be evaluated on its own merits.”
McGuire noted that Newsom has released his tax returns, adding, “I never want to put words into his mouth, but here’s what I’ll say: Gov. Newsom has led by example.” He said, “We can all debate on the floor about the constitutionality of this bill. But we also have to look at what makes our democracy strong. The foundation of any successful government is transparency.”
AP wrote, “Candidates would have to submit tax returns to the secretary of state’s office, which would work with the candidates to redact some information before posting the returns online.”
Similar bills have been proposed in New Jersey and Washington state.
According to a Morning Consult poll in April, a bare majority of respondents, 51%, want to see Trump’s tax returns released.