Democrats have a new potential arrow in their metaphorical quiver to use in challenging the onslaught of Trump-ism — a bill currently awaiting gubernatorial action in California that while apparently only focusing on primary elections, would compel presidential candidates to release their tax returns if they wanted to appear on state ballots. President Donald Trump has infamously refused to release his own tax returns, which breaks with decades of precedent, allows for more private corruption to go unexamined and unchecked — and sets up this California law as a direct affront to the Trump administration. As of early this Saturday, although the bill had been passed by the California legislature, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom had yet to publicly say what he’d do with it. He has until this coming Tuesday.
Bills like this have emerged across the country before, including once under Trump’s administration in California itself. Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown vetoed that bill, expressing concerns about the ramifications of no doubt inevitable legal challenges. Newsom, meanwhile, has already lambasted Trump for refusing to release his tax returns — but he’s not definitively indicated one way or the other whether he’s willing to sign on to making that criticism actionable law.
He did note that he’s “deeply analyzing” the proposal and insisted that no matter which way he goes on it, he finds the proposal to be not just “symbolic” but deeply “substantive” as well, even though he noted that whether the measure is constitutional is an “open-ended question.” State Democrats including bill co-author state Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco), Secretary of State Alex Padilla and more have been stumping for the bill in the meantime. Unsurprisingly, the state GOP — although in no position to do anything substantive to stop the legislation — spoke out on the other side, insisting the proposal was just “political posturing.”
Trump and California have already sparred plenty of times before, including under Newsom. Under their still freshman governor, California withdrew National Guard troops from the southern border as one of the first acts of the Newsom administration, which in line with precedent, enraged the president, who still wants us all to believe that the women and children seeking asylum at the southern border are an existential security threat of some sort.
POLITICO adds, though, that Newsom has also sought to keep at least some lines of communication open with the White House to utilize for issues like disaster aid — although it’s unclear how much Trump can actually help, considering gaffes like the infamous time he said California should have just raked their forests to prevent widespread and deadly wildfires.
Trump’s tax returns have ended up again a focal point of contention between the right and left with the ascent of Democrats to the status of majority in the U.S. House. After the Ways and Means Committee filed a legal demand for the president’s tax returns and the government rejected it, they filed a lawsuit demanding the material — and the Trump administration has now filed a counter-suit, demanding they have no right to access at least his state returns, which have also been targeted. The documents could reveal the truth to allegations of fraud against the president, which he can’t run from forever just because he lives in the White House.
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