California secretary of state announces gubernatorial recall candidates must release tax records

On June 15, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) announced that candidates in an election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) would be required to release five years’ worth of tax records to run. The California Supreme Court previously struck down portions of a 2019 law that pertained to presidential candidates but left the sections related to gubernatorial candidates.

The law specifies that it applies to candidates “on a direct primary election ballot.” Weber’s office ruled that it applied to the potential recall election, while Politico noted that several legal experts disagreed with Weber’s ruling and that candidates could file lawsuits in response.

Representatives for the campaigns of former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) and former Rep. Doug Ose (R) said the campaigns would comply with the ruling. A spokesperson for Newsom said that the governor would also release his records, even though the governor would not technically be a candidate on the recall ballot.

The state legislature approved and Newsom signed the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act in July 2019. It required candidates for president or governor to file copies of their IRS returns for the five most recent years at least 98 days before a primary election. In a November 2019 decision in Patterson v. Padilla, California Supreme CourtChief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye wrote for a unanimous court that the law was “in conflict with the Constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot.”

Organizers of a campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) turned in 1,719,943 valid signatures, exceeding the 1,495,709 required to trigger a recall election. Organizers turned in more than 2.1 million signatures by the March 17 filing deadline. Voters who signed the petition had until June 8 to request removal from the petition. The California secretary of state has until June 22 to verify that enough signatures remain to move the recall forward.