Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder says the California law used to disqualify him from being on the ballot for the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom was originally passed by state lawmakers to force then-President Donald Trump to turn over his tax returns if he wanted to qualify for the 2020 presidential ballot.
Elder, one of the most recognized Republicans in the recall, announced his candidacy on July 12 to oust Newsom. But his campaign office was informed late Sunday night that Elder did not qualify for the ballot for the Sept. 14 election.
Candidates are required to submit tax returns for the five most recent taxable years and pay a nearly $4,200 filing fee or submit 7,000 signatures. California Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office said Elder submitted incomplete tax returns.
A letter shared to Elder late Sunday by the secretary of state’s office does not detail what tax information he supposedly did not include. Elder maintains that he submitted all of the necessary paperwork and that the reasons given by the secretary of state’s office for his disqualification were vague and unclear. On Monday, he filed a lawsuit against Weber, demanding that her office put him on the recall ballot.
Elder’s lawsuit contends that California Senate Bill 27 requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to submit the last five years’ worth of tax returns to be listed on a primary ballot.
“The idea was to force Donald Trump to hand over his tax returns if he wanted to qualify for the 2020 presidential ballot,” Elder told Fox News in an interview. “This was before, of course, his tax returns were stolen and publicly disclosed. So, it was all designed to get Trump.”
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Elder’s lawsuit says SB 27 was litigated up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled it unconstitutional but allowed it to stand in gubernatorial races. It’s not clear though how it applies to recall elections.
Meanwhile, several other candidates have not yet filed their 2020 tax returns, having only submitted four years’ worth of returns.
“Never has anybody been excluded for something minor,” Elder said. “It appears they were looking for some reason to exclude me.”
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Fox News has made multiple attempts to reach the secretary of state’s office seeking comment but has not heard back. In a statement to The Associated Press, Weber’s office said the agency applies the same criteria to each candidate that seeks an elected office.
The list of candidates issued “did not include Mr. Elder and others that failed to comply with those requirements. This is the first election where the gubernatorial candidate tax-disclosure law has been applied.”
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A certified list of recall candidates will be released Wednesday. As of Tuesday, 42 candidates are listed on the preliminary list, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer who has also filed a lawsuit against Weber for rejecting “retired San Diego Mayor” as his official title.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.