By Maria Rocha-Buschel
On Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman announced the introduction of City Councilmember Andrew Cohen’s resolution urging the state legislature to pass Hoylman’s bill requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in New York. Cohen, whose district is in the Bronx, joined Hoylman on the steps of City Hall for the announcement, along with Councilmember Mark Levine, whose district is in northern Manhattan.
Hoylman noted that it isn’t a coincidence the legislation, known as the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (T.R.U.M.P.) Act, shares its name with the president, “but it did take a very long time to come up with it,” he admitted.
The senator argued that the legislation is important because President Trump broke a 40-year tradition in which presidential candidates make their sources of income and other financial information available to the public.
“Another reason it’s important is that presidents aren’t subject to conflict of interest laws,” Hoylman said. “What is he hiding? He could be getting money from Russian oligarchs. Voters need that information to vote intelligently.”
Cohen added that the information shown on tax returns is the only way for voters to learn specifics about a candidate’s finances.
“Potential conflicts of interest due to a presidential candidate’s businesses and holdings can only be reviewed through the public disclosure of tax returns,” Cohen explained.
The City Council resolution has been co-signed by 28 councilmembers and Hoylman’s legislation has also been co-sponsored by Assemblymember Patricia Fahy in the State Assembly.
Hoylman also pointed to a poll from Public Policy Polling released in the last week which found that 61 percent of voters want Trump to release his tax returns. Representatives for the White House have claimed that the public is no longer interested in the documents since the election is over.
Hoylman announced the bill last December and similar legislation has since been proposed in 25 other states. The legislation would require candidates for both president and vice president to file their last five years of federal income tax returns with the New York State Board of Elections no later than 50 days prior to the general election. Failure to comply with the law would disqualify a candidate from appearing on the ballot.