A federal judge has ordered a temporary injunction against California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns for a spot on the presidential primary ballot, an early victory for President Donald Trump but a decision that would undoubtedly be appealed by state officials.
United States District Judge, Morrison England Jr. said he would issue a final ruling by the end of the month but took the unusual step of issuing the tentative order from the bench.
He said there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief” for Trump and other candidates from the law signed by Gov.ernor Gavin Newsom in July. England spent much of the court proceeding on the question of whether a longstanding federal financial disclosure law preempts any additional rules that a state could impose.
The federal law, known as the Ethics in Government Act, or EIGA, was originally passed in 1978 and applies to a range of top federal officials. Trump has filed the annual report, most recently in May, which provides an overview of his finances. “Do we even need to get here if EIGA preempts (the new California law)?” England asked attorneys for the state. “Is that it?” The hearing in a Sacramento courtroom consolidated arguments made in five separate lawsuits filed since Senate Bill 27 was enacted into law. Attorneys on both sides noted that timing is tight on the legal challenge: Under provisions of SB 27, candidates must submit tax returns no later than Nov.ember 26 to be eligible for the March 2 primary. Roque de la Fuente, who filed one of the lawsuits and was a minor-party presidential candidate in 2016 after failing to win support in the Democratic Party, said he supports some limited, voluntary tax return disclosure. “I don’t think it should be mandated by the state,” de la Fuente told reporters outside the courtroom. California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, who as chief elections officer was named a defendant in the lawsuits, said he would wait to see the written ruling before deciding whether to appeal. “We remain firm in our belief that SB 27 is constitutional and provides invaluable transparency for voters as they decide who will hold the most powerful office in the United States,” Padilla said in a statement. Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for the governor, said Newsom believes the California law seeks to ensure full transparency