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Gavin Newsom. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)
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Gov. Newsom Signs Unconstitutional Bill Requiring Candidates’ Tax Returns

‘SB27 is a cynical and illegal voter suppression scheme’

By Katy Grimes, July 30, 2019 1:00 pm

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 27 Tuesday, requiring candidates for U.S. President and California Governor to disclose their income tax returns in order to appear on California’s primary ballot.

As California Globe reported, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed an identical bill in 2017, warning about the unconstitutionality of the bill. Brown also warned that “it sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. “Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?” Brown asked. “Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power? A qualified candidate’s ability to appear on the ballot is fundamental to our democratic system.”

While Democrat lawmakers have been trying for several years to pass a law to require all candidates for President to provide their income tax returns to the California Secretary of State as a precondition for appearing on a California primary election ballot, the bill is largely designed to prevent President Donald Trump from appearing on the California primary ballot if he does not make the documents public.

Harmeet Dhillon, Attorney

“Make no mistake: SB27 is a cynical and illegal voter suppression scheme whose sole purpose is to deny California voters their Constitutionally protected right to vote for qualified candidates for President, and to suppress the Republican vote in California not just for President but also for all the down-ticket races, ballot measures, and power grabs the Democrats have in store for the 2020 ballot,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, RNC National Committeewoman and Vice President of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Governor Newsom’s signing message explains his flawed reasoning:

Today, I am signing SB 27, the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act. I agree with the Legislature that “the State of California has a strong interest in ensuring that its voters make informed, educated choices in the voting booth.” As one of the largest economies in the world and home to one in nine Americans eligible to vote, California has a special responsibility to require this information of presidential and gubernatorial candidates.

These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence. The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.

The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement.

In October of 2018, the Brennan Center’s National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy, a bipartisan group of former public servants and policy experts, recommended that Congress standardize and codify the longstanding practice of tax return disclosure by sitting presidents, vice presidents, and candidates for those offices to assist voters and deter corruption. I agree. This law should be a national standard 

Accordingly, I am signing Senate Bill 27. 

“Even Congress is not allowed to ask for an individual’s tax returns without a proper legislative purpose, and this attempted ‘workaround’ through blue states, mocks our separation of powers and our system of checks and balances” Harmeet Dhillon said. “Beyond this cynical Trump persecution du jour, this bad law is a Pandora’s box which may lead other jurisdictions to impose similarly frivolous and unconstitutional requirements on Presidential candidates, with no policy or legal justification.”

“It’s sad that Governor Newsom decided to ignore the sage and measured approach taken by his predecessor, Governor Brown, in vetoing similar legislation due to the manifest illegality and policy implications of this effort,” Dhillon added. “And yet again, California voters are used as pawns by a Democratic Party substituting cheap gimmicks such this law, for policy solutions to California’s many ills. This ill-conceived law is doomed to failure.”

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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16 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Unconstitutional Bill Requiring Candidates’ Tax Returns

    1. I completely agree!!! The state of California is so corrupt!!! I cannot believe more people aren’t flooding out of there. I left 14 years ago…best thing we’ve ever done!!!

  1. I’ll still be in California during the month of November 2020 to cast my ballot for the current President. Not appearing on a ballot will not stop me from writing in my own candidate. Besides, the Electoral College will ultimately decide. Not my actual vote. I encourage all of you to follow the recall effort to take this self serving prick out of office.

    1. I’ll be using this latest dirty little trick of theirs to register and galvanize sensible voters so Newsom may have done us a favor. But you’re absolutely right that he’s a self-serving prick who needs to be recalled. The sooner the better.

  2. From Wikipedia
    1676 – Virginia colonist Nathaniel Bacon and his makeshift army issued a Declaration of the People of Virginia, instigating a rebellion against the rule of Governor William Berkeley.

  3. You people on the Left Coast have been captured by a group of mad political scientists. Not so mad though, that they have forgotten to give themselves raises in seven out of the last eight years. You must be very proud of those Yahoos in Sacramento, and the creeps you’ve sent to Washington?

  4. I don’t give a shit the size of a mouses ass about Trumps tax returns!!
    I don’t care how a billionaire became president and donates his presidential salary every quarter

    Politicians earn $174,000.00 per year.

    Living in multi-million dollar homes, expensive cars, net worth in multi-millions living first class at taxpayer expense

    I want to see the House, Senate, Congress, and DOJ
    Tax returns and bank statements.

    HARRY S TRUMAN SAID
    YOU CAN’T GET RICH IN POLITICS UNLESS YOUR A CROOK.

  5. Many high achieving taxpayers are leaving the state. Good luck paying for the pensions and welfare sucking illegals.

  6. The governor says citizens in effect are entitled to know is candidates are qualified for the office. The Constitution requires only two things: are you natural born citizen and are you 35 years old. As to any other qualification that’s why we have campaigns. Americans see the runners and determine which of them meet their standards. This law clearly is unconstitutional.

  7. And Nancy Pelosi and Omar and other Dims are having an expensive lunch in Venice Italy at Harry Cipriani’s and staying at a 5 Star Hotel…….wonder why they
    need to be in Venice and who is paying for this luxury vacation….Elijah Cummings there too…..Venice has a rat problem…….

  8. How is it possible to get elected to the largest state (population) in the country and not understand the Constitution?

  9. We can longer sit around and sign petitions.

    We need to demand that the Federal Government suspend all Federal funding for California and place federal sanctions on all the States Holdings.
    It’s time for Federal action, not silly Republican petition signing. All it has gotten us is being called racist and misogynist. We need to Demand enforcement of Federal Law.
    Do we have a President or not?
    If so…Barr needs to send the military in and take Sacramento back from the terrorists.

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