While trying to mess with President Donald Trump, far-left California Gov. Gavin Newsom wound up accidentally almost messing up 2020 contender former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Tuesday the governor signed into law a bill that requires candidates who wish to compete in the 2020 California presidential primary elections to release the last five years of their tax returns.
These are extraordinary times. We can and must ensure those running for high office are held to a basic standard of transparency & accountability.
CA now requires those running for POTUS & Gov to release 5 yrs of tax returns to get on our primary ballot. pic.twitter.com/JglwAYOyOe
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 30, 2019
Authored by state Sen. Mike McGuire, the “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act” specifically requires that every candidate send the California secretary of state “copies of every income tax return the candidate filed with the Internal Revenue Service in the five most recent taxable years.”
“This bill is all about equal opportunity and transparency for all, no matter whether you are a Democrat or Republican,” McGuire said to The Sacramento Bee. “Trump is absolutely a strong example of the need for this legislation, but he’s not the only one.”
He is, however, among the only ones who likely won’t actually be affected. Why? Because the chances of him losing the 2020 GOP presidential primary are practically non-existent.
So even if he were to not be included in the state’s primary, he’d still most likely win every other state’s primary, thus securing the nomination by default. Nice try, though, Newsom.
But the same does not apply to Biden, whose poll numbers have been seesawing up and down, meaning a loss in one state could irrevocably harm his 2020 bid.
Here’s the kicker: According to McGuire, at the time of the bill’s signing Tuesday morning, Biden was not eligible to appear on the state’s March 2020 Democrat primary ballot.
“McGuire, who has endorsed California Sen. Kamala Harris, said shortly after the bill signing that Biden would not presently appear on the March ballot because he had only released three years of tax returns as a 2020 contender,” the Bee confirmed.
However, later that afternoon the former VP’s campaign “sent The Sacramento Bee all 21 years of tax information, thus satisfying McGuire’s interpretation of the new law.”
Not exactly. The law called for the returns to be filed with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, not The Sacramento Bee …
It’s unclear whether Biden’s camp has filed his returns with the state government yet.
What’s known is that this law only applies to primary elections, not general elections.
“Although it would keep a candidate off the March primary ballot, the new law does not appear to block a candidate who refuses to disclose the information from appearing on the November 2020 statewide ballot,” the Los Angeles Times has confirmed.
This is further good news for the president. That and the fact that the president’s tax returns reportedly still remain under audit by the IRS, meaning this law may not even apply to him.
And since Trump’s tax returns are still under audit by the IRS he will be exempted as this was a state law and IRS is Federal.
— BK Marshall (@marshall_bk) July 30, 2019
The one piece of bad news is that other Democrat-led states have reportedly been attempting to implement similar laws. Where such laws to become ubiquitous, that would pose a problem.
“Bills from 10 states outside California are still alive, and five of them — Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington — have already cleared one chamber this year,” the Bee notes.
“Hawaii’s plan calls for presidential candidates to release their most recent tax return, while North Carolina’s proposal would force candidates to disclose the last 10 years of information. All other states with surviving bills match California’s five-year requirement, though some states want to place identical requirements on candidates running for vice president.”
Members of the right nevertheless don’t appear to be too concerned about this trend, in part because it’s just “plain dumb,” as Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel put it, and in part because it’s also inordinately unconstitutional:
Instead of trying to beat @realDonaldTrump at the ballot box, Dems are resorting to gimmicky tactics that are unconstitutional, undemocratic, and just plain dumb.
Californians deserve better from their leaders. https://t.co/qPHxLI57Sj
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) July 30, 2019
➡️ Memo: per the Constitution, it does not require a candidate to show tax returns to be President. Article II, Section 1 requires a candidate be at least 35 years old & a natural born citizen. California has violated the Constitution.
Cc @Scavino45 @TrumpWarRoom @GOP
— Marie (@MarieLeff) July 30, 2019
— Lessig (@lessig) July 30, 2019
The new California law purporting to strip Trump of ballot access if he doesn’t release his tax returns is probably unconstitutional under the 1994 Thornton precedent and in any event shreds important electoral norms. My post last year: https://t.co/jVNPoMIQw7
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) July 30, 2019
By signing a very problematic bill on Tuesday, Newsom took a slap at Donald Trump that is hyperpartisan, probably counterproductive and perhaps even unconstitutional, writes The Times Editorial Board. https://t.co/Th0YBbXgkx
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 31, 2019
Even the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board, which certainly isn’t “right-wing,” has called the bill out for being in violation of the law — and, more notably, for posing far bigger long-term risks to Democrats than Republicans.
“Presidential candidates ought to share their tax documents with the public. But adding new requirements for candidates is a bad idea,” the board write in a column Wednesday.
“If California adds this partisan requirement as a slap at Trump, what’s to stop red states from adding a requirement that candidates release their birth certificates? Will some states require candidates to release their health records? Do we really want every state to have its own requirements governing who can run for president? That’s a recipe for confusion.”
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