California lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill setting a new requirement for people wanting to run for president in California: Hand over five years of tax returns.
Inspired by President Donald Trump’s refusal to provide tax returns before the 2016 election, Democratic Sens. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg and Scott Wiener of San Francisco drafted Senate Bill 149, which declares that tax returns provide “voters with essential information regarding the candidate’s potential conflicts of interest, business dealings, financial status, and charitable donations.”
It prohibits the secretary of state from putting a candidate’s name on the ballot in California if he or she has not complied with the tax return requirement.
The Legislature’s own lawyers have said the bill is legally questionable, issuing an opinion suggesting it would likely violate the qualifications clause of the U.S. Constitution. According the Assembly analysis of the bill, nearly half the states are considering similar legislation.
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With tensions over Trump running high in deep blue California, the Assembly separately took time Friday evening to condemn the president’s remarks following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month. After a participant drove his car into a crowd of counterprotestors, killing one woman and injuring 19 others, Trump was widely criticized for blaming “both sides” for the violence.
“The rally, with Ku Klux Klan marchers and neo-Nazis with swastikas, harkens back to a dark time in our nation’s history,” Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, said. “President Trump’s comments to legitimize these groups open up the wounds that many have experienced over many, many years.”
Thurmond authored a resolution urging Congress to censure Trump and calling upon the president to apologize for “his racist and bigoted behavior.” He said Trump divided the country by refusing to condemn hate: “Let us a send a message as we call our president to be the leader of all of the American people, and to bring the people together.”
The resolution passed 41-5, with two Republicans in support. But it angered Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, who lambasted his colleagues for wasting time with yet another anti-Trump resolution that has no practical effect.
“For the twelfth time, I get it: the Democrats in this body don’t like Donald Trump,” Harper said. “It’s about time we stayed on state business.”
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, responded that she was also “tired of talking about Donald Trump. I am tired of talking about the president. I am tired of talking about Charlottesville.”
“But unfortunately, the world that I live in demands that I say something about it, that I stand up against it,” she said.