Jul 30, 2019 - Politics & Policy

California governor signs law targeting Trump's tax returns, ballot eligibility

President Trump at the White House

2020 candidates must release tax returns to appear on California primary ballot. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Tuesday requiring all presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their 5 most recent years' worth of tax returns in order to appear on the state's primary ballot.

Why it matters: The move makes California the first state to demand the disclosure from candidates, according to reporter Yashar Ali. If a contender refuses, they will not be included on the primary ballot. The law was passed in hopes of pressuring President Trump to make his filings public — a battle House Democrats and other states have thus far failed to win.

The law will not impact a candidate's ability to be listed on the ballot in the general election.

The big picture: Trump could continue to avoid sharing his personal finances by opting out of the California primary next March.

  • The AP writes: "[H]e likely won’t need California’s delegates to win the Republican nomination." Currently, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is Trump's only GOP challenger.
  • Already, 10 2020 Democrats have provided their tax disclosures.

Reality check: Trump only won 31.5% of the votes in California in the 2016 election. He is unlikely to win the left-leaning state in the 2020 general election regardless of the new law.

What's next: The law is expected to be challenged in court. The president's personal attorney Jay Sekulow wrote, "the State of California’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be answered in court," per Politico.

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