Sunday, September 23, 2018

California’s governor has vetoed a Donald Trump-inspired bill that would have forced presidential contenders to release their tax returns.

Breaking with decades of tradition, Mr Trump refused to release a full accounting of his finances despite running a global business empire that ethics experts say is rife with potential conflicts of interest. Concerns about entanglements between Mr Trump’s business and his official duties have prompted lawsuits.

In California, Democrats sought to prevent a repeat situation by passing a bill that would have required presidential contenders to release their tax returns in order to appear on presidential primary ballots. The measure was embraced by elected politicians and by the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

But Gov Jerry Brown vetoed the measure, warning that it might be unconstitutional – a conclusion also drawn by an official state analysis – and worrying about spurring “an ever escalating set of differing state requirements for presidential candidates”.

“While I recognise 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 matter,” Mr Brown wrote in a veto message.

“Today we require tax returns”, Mr Brown added, “but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards”?

Other states have unsuccessfully pursued similar measures. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie – a key campaign surrogate for Mr Trump – vetoed a tax returns bill.

Veto notwithstanding, Mr Brown is no ally of Mr Trump. The Democratic governor has aggressively pursued measures to limit climate change while blasting Mr Trump and his administration for downplaying the risks, and he recently signed a so-called “sanctuary state” bill that sharply limits how much California jails and police officers can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.