Capitol Alert

Trump sues California + New presidential poll, same leader + Trial courts to get millions

Good morning, California! Capitol lawmakers will be back from their month-long recess in less than a week. And because I missed my Tuesday call for recipes, tips, feedback, suggestions and ideas, consider this your weekly reminder that my email is open:


The moment we’ve all been waiting for...

A week after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that would keep President Donald Trump’s name off the 2020 primary ballot, the California Republican Party, the national GOP and the commander in chief are formally challenging the new law.

Surprise, surprise, but not really, considering former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2017 due to potential constitutional violations.

Newsom discounted that claim when he signed off on Senate Bill 27, when he said states have the authority to “determine how their electors are chosen.”

The law in question would keep a presidential candidate off the ballot unless they release the last five years of their tax returns. Trump’s team filed a 15-page complaint this week in the U.S. Eastern District of California, as Bryan Anderson details in this story. Republican state lawmakers, the state party and the Republican National Committee also filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction.

“Today we have taken decisive action in federal court challenging California’s attempt to circumvent the U.S. Constitution,” Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement. “The issue of whether the president should release his federal tax returns was litigated in the 2016 election and the American people spoke. The effort to deny California voters the opportunity to cast a ballot for President Trump in 2020 will clearly fail.”

The complaint also called the law a “partisan effort” and an “ongoing crusade” launched by Democrats to get their hands on Trump’s tax returns. Attorney General Xavier Becerra declined to offer a lengthy statement, but said California would be ready for the legal challenge.

So, too, is Newsom.

“There’s an easy fix Mr. President – release your tax returns as you promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973,” Newsom tweeted following the news.


Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t dominate during the second round of presidential debates last week, despite his star status as the front runner among more than 20 Democratic candidates.

But a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on Tuesday found that Biden still maintains a lead over his rivals. He is polling at 32 percent among Democrats and left-leaning independents.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren got a bump, and is now polling at 21 percent. California Sen. Kamala Harris got knocked down to 7 percent, a 5-point loss since a July 29 survey and only half of what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders polled.

“Biden survives, Warren thrives and Harris dives as debate number two shakes up the primary,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.

Quinnipiac surveyed more than 800 Democrats and liberal independents from Aug. 1 to 5.

Interesting — More than a third of Democrats said they think Warren has the best policy ideas. She also scored the highest debate performance reviews. And the “very liberal” among Democrats just love her, with 40 percent backing her compared to Sanders’ 20 percent.

But she still trails behind Biden’s 33 percent when voter are asked who is the best potential leader. Obama’s right-hand man also has close to half of black Democrats supporting him, as well as a third of the party’s women. Warren only secured 8 and 24 percent, respectively.


The Judicial Council is meeting this week to determine how to spend a large portion of the $75 million earmarked in the state budget to launch pretrial projects across California.

The policy-making branch of the court system will meet to consider allocating $68.06 million to 16 trial courts. Some of the projects could be increasing the “safe and efficient release” of people arrested ahead of their day in court, implementing the “least restrictive” monitoring strategies, expanding risk assessment tools and reducing bias in the process.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye spearheaded the initiative in January by organizing the 12-person Pretrial Reform and Operations Workgroup.

The coalition includes trial court judges, appellate justices and court executives, and was tasked with identifying the best pretrial release and detention reforms.

“In California, we are leading and experiencing reforms driven by best practices, but also pilot projects, court decisions, and legislation,” Cantil-Sakauye said when the group’s formation was announced. “This work group will help continue progress toward reform that benefits the branch, enhances public safety and promotes equitable treatment of all who come through our criminal justice system.”

The three courts slated to receive a bulk of the money — $41,218,700 — are Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Courts had to apply for the money, and Judicial Council staff selected the recipients from a pile of 31 applications.

The session is scheduled to begin at 11:00 on Friday.


August 7 — Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach


Best of The Bee:

  • More than 1,000 public pensions in California are so big they exceed IRS limits by Wes Venteicher
  • Political heavyweights’ unite to fight for cannabis from the capitol to the counties by Andrew Sheeler
  • After State Bar of California exam leak, hundreds of no-show applicants ask for a refund by Elaine Chen
Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.