The California State Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that would require all presidential candidates to release their tax returns prior to being placed on the state’s ballot.
The bill, called the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, passed the state Assembly on a 42-18 vote and will now head to the state Senate for a concurrence vote before being sent to the governor for his signature.
“President Trump’s blatant disregard for the tradition of releasing tax returns is dangerous to our democracy,” state Sen. Mike McGuire (D), one of the authors of the bill, said in a statement. “For decades, every President has put their personal beliefs aside and put our country first and released their returns. “
“SB 149 helps to reestablish desperately needed transparency in the White House, and we are looking forward to seeing the Governor’s signature on the bill.”
The bill would require all presidential candidates to release the last five years of their tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot.
Legally, there is no question this is well within California’s rights. In 1912, South Dakota and California kept William Howard Taft off the ballot because the Republican Party was controlled by Theodore Roosevelt supporters. Alabama would not allow Lyndon Johnson on the ballot in 1964. And more famously was Abraham Lincoln not being allowed on the ballot throughout the South in 1860. So there is plenty of precedent. And I don’t have a problem with this really. But I do wonder what keeping Trump off the ballot in 2020 would mean for devolution of American norms at a time when that is already happening. Would Texas keep the Democratic nominee off the ticket for the reason that the nominee is a Democrat? I also worry that it would affect the all-important down-ballot races where Democrats need to sweep out whatever Republicans are remaining after 2018 and where leftist Democrats need to push out Wall Street Democrats.
So consider me a bit worried about the implications of this going into law.