SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers late Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require presidential candidates to make their tax returns public before appearing on the state’s ballot.
The legislation, passed by a Democratic-controlled Legislature after similar measures failed to advance in other states, marked the latest volley in California’s ongoing feud with President Donald Trump.
“[For] 40 years, 40 years … Democrats and Republicans alike have released their tax returns,” Democratic state Sen. Mike McGuire, the bill’s author, said on the Senate floor. “It’s time that California holds this president and all future presidents accountable.”
The enforceability of the bill remains in question. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states cannot add to the qualifications for U.S. Senate or House members, according to a legislative analysis, and California’s legislative counsel released an opinion ahead of the vote calling the measure unconstitutional. But other legal experts have said such a requirement could pass constitutional muster.
It is also unclear if Brown will sign the measure. While Trump is the first president in years to ascend to the White House without releasing his tax returns, the Democratic governor has resisted similar disclosures. In a break with longstanding tradition of gubernatorial candidates in California, he did not release his tax returns during his 2010 or 2014 campaigns.
The measure passed the state Senate on the final day of this year’s legislative session, after gaining approval in California’s lower house the previous day. The bill would require, as a condition for appearing on the primary ballot, that presidential candidates file copies of their five most recent tax returns with state officials. The state, in turn, would make them public.