The bill, which passed its first major hurdle in the state Senate late last week, would require all presidential candidates to submit five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot in March 2020.
It joins 18 other states in proposing such legislation.
The bill would apply to all candidates but is clearly aimed at Trump, who has long broken with presidential precedent and refused to release his tax returns. Eight of his Democratic challengers have done so, shedding valuable insight on their sources of income and gifts to charity.
“President Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns has broken a time honored, bi-partisan tradition which has weakened our democracy and his jaw dropping business conflicts have now put the security of our nation at risk,” state Sen. Mike McGuire (D) said in a statement when he introduced the bill in March.
The California Legislature passed a similar measure in 2017, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed it when it got to his desk, saying he hesitated “to start down a road that well might lead to an ever-escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates.”
Current Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has not indicated whether he’d sign or veto the bill if it gets to his desk. He was, however, the first gubernatorial candidate in his race last year to release copies of his own federal tax returns.
Trump is also battling pressure from House Democrats to release his tax returns as part of their investigation into his business dealings. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Monday that Trump would not comply with their request ― a move that will likely force the Supreme Court to weigh in.