California Likely to Require Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns

SACRAMENTO (CN) — A proposal requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns to California voters gained steam Wednesday as lawmakers and California’s secretary of state pledged support for the Donald Trump-inspired bill.

The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee cleared Senate Bill 149 after Secretary of State Alex Padilla endorsed it. In a letter to committee chairman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, Padilla said access to candidates’ tax returns are vital to the integrity of California elections.

“Requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns is an important transparency measure,” Padilla wrote. “Voters and the press should not be left in the dark about a candidate’s potential conflicts of interest.”

Hoping to “make transparency great again,” two Democratic state senators introduced SB 149 shortly after Trump was elected. They modeled the proposal after a New York bill — the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act, or TRUMP Act which is pending in the New York  Legislature.

Under SB 149, submitting five recent years of tax returns would be a prerequisite for any presidential primary candidate hoping to land on the Golden State’s ballot. The candidate’s information would be redacted to protect Social Security numbers and addresses before being placed on the secretary of state’s website.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco — who did not release his tax returns during his successful 2016 campaign — said his bill is about building trust in the elections system.

“The more we hear about the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the more it becomes clear that the American people didn’t have the full picture leading up to the election in 2016. While we can’t change the past, we can work to ensure more transparency and accountability from future presidential candidates,” Wiener said in a statement after the committee vote.

The bill was cleared by the Democratic-led California Senate in May without a single Republican vote.

Governor Jerry Brown refused to disclose his tax returns during his 2010 campaign against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. The bill will go to him for signature if it is approved by the Assembly.

Every president from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama released at least one year of his income tax returns.

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