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Presidential Candidates May Have to Release Taxes to be on CA Ballot

EL PASO, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. Trump continues his campaign for a wall to be built along the border as the Democrats in Congress are asking for other border security measures. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
By George Khoury, Esq. on May 06, 2019

A stunning piece of legislation out of California requires all presidential candidates to have disclosed their taxes in order to be included on the primary ballot.

If the legislative move sounds familiar, that’s because the California legislature did it once before in 2017, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed that effort, claiming it would be unconstitutional. However, now that Gavin Newsom is the governor, the chances of this bill being signed into law are much higher, as Newsom has been an outspoken advocate for governmental transparency.

California Congress Sends a Message, Again

The bill passed through the California Senate on a vote of 27 to 10, and now proceeds to the Assembly. From there, it would go to Governor Newsom, whose office has remained silent as to whether the bill would be signed. While Newsom has released his taxes and has been rather vocal about his belief that politicians should release their taxes, signing a bill that would certainly face a federal court challenge, just to send a political message, might not be how he wants to govern.

After all, in the end, and assuming California doesn’t completely change overnight, what would it really mean if President Trump couldn’t win the California Primary, or be on the ballot in the California at all?

What Does This Mean for President Trump?

Notably, not being included on the primary ballot in California, or even on the regular ballot in California, likely doesn't hold much consequence for the sitting president. He didn't win California in 2016, and likely doesn't have any thoughts of a change in 2020.

Interestingly, California is not the only state considering such a move, but so far no state has passed a law to that effect. Additionally, even if states were to pass these laws, it is fully expected that the Trump administration would be successful in a constitutional challenge as states really can't just unilaterally impose requirements for presidential candidates. From the political perspective however, it may look bad for President Trump to have to engage in that legal battle, doubling down on not releasing his taxes amid growing numbers of Americans who believe that he should release them.

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