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‘Show your taxes’—Could California really make presidential contenders do it?

Every president since Jimmy Carter has released his tax returns while running for the country’s highest office, a post-Watergate acknowledgment that the American people might have an interest in knowing their president is not a crook. But President Donald Trump famously broke that tradition.

For many Americans, the break provided an unexpected civics lesson: that the ritual airing-out of each presidential candidate’s financial laundry isn’t mandated by the U.S. Constitution or statute, but by mere expectation.

“It turns out that this was just a voluntary agreement, not a law,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign, a progressive advocacy organization supporting the bill. “So there’s a very unique opportunity here to make it law.”