California governor signs bill requiring Trump to release tax returns

LOS ANGELES, July 30 (Reuters) - California's Democratic governor signed a law on Tuesday requiring U.S. presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns before they can appear on the state's ballot, a move aimed squarely at President Donald Trump.

The law, which passed both houses of the Democrat-controlled state legislature earlier this month, marks the latest effort by Democrats to expose still-murky details of Trump's financial empire.

"These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence," California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the bill signing.

Representatives for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the measure, which was expected to face legal challenges.

Newsom's predecessor as California governor, Jerry Brown, in 2017 vetoed similar legislation passed by state lawmakers on the grounds that it might run counter to the U.S. Constitution and set a precedent for requiring presidential candidates to disclose personal information.

California governor Gavin Newsom through the years
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California governor Gavin Newsom through the years
Gavin Newsome, San Francisco City Supervisor at the Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, California (Photo by Arun Nevader/WireImage)
Giants Owner Peter Magowan, Giants Ace Barry Zito, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Giants legend Willie Mays and Executive VP of Business for Major League Baseball Tim Brosnan pose for a photo at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday April 18, 2007, after a press conference detailing the events that will take place during the weeklong celebration of the 2007 Allstar Game in July.(Nick Lammers/The Oakland Tribune)(Digital First Media Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 10: San Francisco Mayor-elect Gavin Newsom waves to supporters as he walks through Chinatown the day after he was elected to office December 10, 2003 in San Francisco, California. Newsom defeated Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez in a run-off election to replace outgoing mayor Willie Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 21, 2005: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his sister Hilary Newsom, in a promotional portrait for the Search for the Cause campaign, which raises funds for cancer research. Hilary is wearing a Search for the Cause dogtag. (Photo: Caroline Schiff/Getty Images) ***Local caption***Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom (center) and models during San Francisco Fashion Week 2005 - Gavin Newsom Backstage for Mel Rose at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California, United States. (Photo by Arun Nevader/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 27: (L-R) New York Governor George Pataki, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom arrive at the site where Schwarzenegger will sign the landmark legislation bill AB-32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 September 27, 2006 on Treasure Island in San Francisco, California. Schwarzenegger was joined by New York Governor George Pataki, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair via satellite along with other international leaders with a consistent record of addressing the global threat of climate change and other environmental and industry leaders. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 11: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom walks to the stage at the closing ceremonies after the USA defeated the International Team 19.5 to 14.5 to win The Presidents Cup at Harding Park Golf Course on October 11, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama greets California Attorney General Kamala Harris (L) and Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California, after arriving on Air Force One at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, February 17, 2011. Obama is traveling on a two-day trip to the West Coast, where he will meet with technology business leaders in California and tour an Intel plant in Oregon. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 30: California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom appears at the Gay Pride Parade on June 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Arun Nevader/FilmMagic)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Parkside Hall in San Jose, California on May 26, 2016 (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C) looks on with Governor of California Jerry Brown (R) and Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, as they view damage from wildfires in Paradise, California on November 17, 2018. - President Donald Trump arrived in California to meet with officials, victims and the "unbelievably brave" firefighters there, as more than 1,000 people remain listed as missing in the worst-ever wildfire to hit the US state. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
En esta fotografía del 23 de julio de 2019 se muestra al gobernador de California Gavin Newsom durante una conferencia de prensa en Sacramento, California. (AP Foto/Rich Pedroncelli)

Despite suggesting during his successful 2016 run for the presidency that he would release his tax returns once an audit was complete, Trump has refused to make them public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected requests by the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee to the Internal Revenue Service to turn over six years of Trump's returns.

The committee sued Mnuchin and the Treasury Department last week to appeal Mnuchin’s decision.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, signed an amendment to a state law requiring the Department of Taxation and Finance to release any returns sought by the appropriate congressional committees.

Last week Trump sued New York over the legislation, saying it was enacted to retaliate against the president because of his "policy positions, his political beliefs, and his protected speech, including the positions he took during the 2016 campaign."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown)

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