The New York State Assembly voted in favor of a bill on Wednesday that would allow congressional investigators to gain at least some access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns. The bill would require the commissioner of Taxation and Finance to cooperate with investigations by certain House committees of the United States Congress under certain circumstances.
The New York state senate passed the measure earlier this month, and the bill will now head to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) desk for signature or veto. Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law.
The language of the law would allow for the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, to acquire the state tax returns of the president as well as those of any New York elected officials, their business entities, and their top-level appointees from the state Department of Taxation and Finance.
As a native New Yorker, the president’s state income tax return would shed light on Trump’s closely held revenue streams, something Democrats have long been hoping to attain. Democratic state legislators have not been coy as to the bill being aimed at assisting congressional investigators in their quest to see Trump’s taxes.
“Particularly for the person in the most powerful office in the land, let alone the entire world, it is incumbent to make sure that policy making is based on what is in the best interest of the people of the United States, not what is in a personal private interest,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman David Buchwald (D).
Buchwald, a former practicing tax attorney, added that “the entire issue would not have arisen were it not for the president deviating from over 40 years of a tradition in this country of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns and people once they are elected president continuing to make those tax returns available.”
The bill has been divisive from its inception, causing much of the state assembly to mobilize along party lines with state Republicans expressing their disapproval of the measure.
“No matter how they dress it up for legal purposes, this unconstitutional bill of attainder is aimed at one individual for the political purpose of relitigating the 2016 election,” Republican Chairman Edward Cox stated in April. He added that “the bill would set a dangerous precedent for infringing on the privacy rights of all citizens.”
Republican Michael Fitzpatrick claimed that Democrats were attempting to “weaponize the state legislature” against the president.
Republican Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan similarly criticized his Democratic colleagues Wednesday, saying, “Senate and Assembly Democrats have wasted weeks on their singular obsession with getting a peek at President Trump’s taxes, and in that time they’ve done absolutely nothing to help hardworking, middle-class taxpayers struggling to provide for their families and make ends meet.”
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]