Gavin Newsom can give Trump a choice: Release taxes or skip California primary

California lawmakers are seeking once again to force President Trump to release his tax returns by blocking access to the state primary election ballot if he does not. 

The matter is now in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom, after the state Senate gave final approval Thursday to SB27, which would require presidential candidates to release five years of income tax returns in order to be eligible for the primary election in California.

“What does President Trump have to hide?” said Sen. Mike McGuire, the Healdsburg Democrat who is carrying the bill.

A similar bill was vetoed two years ago by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who suggested that it might be unconstitutional and could set a “slippery slope” precedent for other demands on candidates.

McGuire dismissed those concerns Thursday, pointing out that Brown declined to release his own tax returns when he ran for governor in 2010 and 2014. SB27 now covers gubernatorial candidates as well as those running for president.

A spokesman for Newsom, who shared six years of income tax returns when he ran for governor last year, did not immediately respond to a question about whether he would sign the bill.

McGuire said his bill was written carefully, with legal challenges in mind. It applies only to the primary election because the state Constitution allows political parties to nominate their own presidential candidates in the general election.

The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that states cannot establish qualifications for running for federal office beyond what is in the Constitution, but it has allowed them to set reasonable conditions for ballot access.

McGuire said he believes SB27 will be upheld because it creates “an even playing field for all candidates, regardless of party” and would also apply to Democratic presidential hopefuls, such as Joe Biden, who have not yet released five years of tax returns.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Trump has broken with four decades of presidential precedent by refusing to disclose any of his income tax returns. He said he could not do so because he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. What they didn’t include is that there is no law stating a standing has to reveal his earnings when we was a private citizen. Such an action would violate Federal law to require it.

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