Calif. governor blocks plan to force Trump to release tax returns

Calif. governor blocks plan to force Trump to release tax returns
© Greg Nash

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) late Sunday vetoed legislation that would have required presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to qualify for the state ballot.

The bill passed the Democratic-dominated legislature after President Trump broke longstanding precedent by refusing to make public his tax returns during the 2016 campaign.

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But Brown said the measure represented a possible slippery slope that could force candidates to release other private information, like health records, school records — and even a birth certificate.

"While I recognize the political attractiveness — even the merits — of getting President Trump's tax returns, I worry about the political perils of individual states seeking to regulate presidential elections in this manner," Brown wrote in a veto message. "Will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?"

"I hesitate to start down a road that well might lead to an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates," Brown said.

Democratic legislators in several states had introduced measures designed to force Trump to release his taxes, though California was the only state to pass such a bill this year.

Sunday was the deadline for Brown to sign or veto measures from the 2017 legislative session. Brown has signed hundreds of bills into law over the last few weeks since the legislature left Sacramento, including overhauls of the state's criminal justice system, measures aimed at increasing zero-emission cars and improving transparency in drug pricing, and a package of bills aimed at addressing an acute housing shortage.

The presidential tax return measure was one of a few dozen Brown has vetoed in recent weeks.

The measure's primary sponsor, state Sen. Mike McGuire (D), represents the heart of California wine country, which has been ravaged by fire over the last week. McGuire, who has been touring his district organizing aid in the last week, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.