California Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Tuesday to decide whether to sign a bill requiring presidential candidates — including Donald Trump — to release their tax returns to qualify for the primary ballot.
The bill, SB 27, passed both houses of the California state legislature earlier this month, thanks in part to Democrats’ super-majority in each. It now awaits Newsom’s signature. Analysts describe it as a political “freebie” for Newsom — but it could be declared unconstitutional, and it could jeopardize the few areas in which Trump has cooperated with Newsom’s administration.
Politico reported Saturday that Newsom says he is still “deeply analyzing” the bill. It would almost certainly be challenged in court, where it would be likely to lose. There is no precedent for compelling any citizen to release tax returns except to the government, which depends on the secrecy of individual returns to encourage full disclosure and payment. Some analysts also suggest that Newsom might motivate the state’s Republicans if he signed the bill. Democrats hope Newsom signs it because it could encourage other Democrat-governed states to do the same.
Last week, Trump sued House Democrats and New York State officials to prevent the release of his state tax returns. During the 2016 race, Trump suggested that his returns were under audit and therefore unavailable; currently, he seems merely interested in preventing them from being released. The last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, released several years of his tax returns — only to have Democrats, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), spread deliberately false rumors that he had not paid federal income tax for ten years.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.