Bill to deny Trump ballot access if he doesn’t release tax returns passes overwhelmingly in California

A proposed bill in the state of California, which would require any candidate seeking to win the office of the presidency to submit the past five years of their tax returns, is heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s desk, where he will decide to sign it into law or not.

Newsom, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill, which passed both chambers of the state legislature earlier this week, according to reporting from The Sacramento Bee. The bill is largely seen as a means to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, which he’s refused to do so far, making him the first presidential candidate to not make his information public in four decades.

The bill passed by party-line vote, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting the measure and Republicans refusing to vote in its favor.

Democrats argue the law would be applied equally to all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, pointing out that it would also require gubernatorial candidates to release their tax records, according to ABC 7 out of San Francisco. Republicans believe the law, which will likely face a court challenge, is unconstitutional.

“The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh said.

The bill’s authors, however, tried to work around that kind of challenge in crafting their bill. Rather than apply the requirements to candidates running for the general election, it would only apply to candidates running in the primaries, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. California’s primary election date is in March.

The bill, which many see as going after Trump, could also force some Democratic presidential candidates to pony-up their returns. Former Vice President Joe Biden, for example, has released three years of his tax returns so far, but the bill would require him to release two more years in order to appear on the spring primary ballot.

Another possible outcome looms: if Newsom indeed signs the bill into law, and it passes constitutional muster, Trump could simply opt-out of running in the state of California altogether, recognizing his chances of winning the state are slim to begin with. Such a move would be unprecedented, and there are no indications that this an option the campaign is considering at this time.

Featured image via Charlie Nguyen/Flickr 

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