LOS ANGELES - 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.
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)