Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced on Tuesday that all recall candidates will need to give their tax returns from the past five years according to a 2019 law.
In 2019, California passed a law requiring candidates across many elections, including the presidential and gubernatorial elections, to release their tax returns, largely due to former President Donald Trump refusing to release his tax returns for several years. While the California Supreme Court largely invalidated the law in late 2019, the part about Gubernatorial candidates remained law.
However, the law’s language of candidates being “on a direct primary election ballot” raised questions as soon as the recall election was confirmed by the state earlier this year. Some argued that since the recall is a special election, that it shouldn’t be counted as a “direct primary election.” Others retorted that it was the election of a Governor that it should be covered. Still others argued that only Newsom should release his taxes since his was the only name on one of the ballot questions.
Weber decided on Tuesday that recall elections were indeed covered and that all candidates needed to show their tax returns, basing it on a precedent set during the 2003 recall that based gubernatorial candidate qualifications in recall elections on primary gubernatorial election requirements.
Governor Newsom’s office noted on Tuesday that he has already shown his tax returns to the press up until 2019, and would release all of his tax returns before the recall vote. 2020 tax records would likely not be included, as Newsom has previously said that he would not be filing those until October. Many have accused the Governor of hiding how well his Plumpjack winery and restaurant businesses did during the pandemic through receiving waivable loans and staying open at a time when most similar businesses had to legally stay closed or be very limited in how they opened until after the recall election by filing so late. However, others have pointed out that Newsom routinely files tax extensions with the IRS and that this year is no different.
Most major candidates running in the recall election previously announced following Newsom’s release of his 2019 taxes last month that they would release theirs in turn, including Doug Ose, Caitlyn Jenner, and Kevin Faulconer. John Cox had remained noncommittal, noting that his team was looking into the election requirements.
“I will disclose my tax returns once the election is set and I complete the paperwork to run,” said Ose last month. “Such disclosure should apply to every state legislative and constitutional office candidate, as well as their Chiefs of Staff.”
Following Weber’s announcement on Tuesday, Ose, Jenner, and Faulconer once again committed to releasing their tax returns for the election with Cox once again not confirming that he would as of Wednesday.
“It’s a requirement now, so expect every candidate to do it,” said San Jose-based local election consultant Peri Russell to the Globe on Wednesday. In some of their cases, it actually only stands to help their case, especially those that have records that show more hustle than Newsom.
The 2021 recall election is expected to be held later this year with a final date to be announced soon.
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