Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed a bill that would allow congressional investigators to access the New York state tax returns of President Donald Trump.
“Tax secrecy is paramount – the exception being for bonafide investigative and law enforcement purposes,” Cuomo said. “By amending the law enforcement exception in New York State tax code to include Congressional tax-related committees, this bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.”
The measure, approved by the legislature in May, is meant to counteract efforts by the Trump administration on the federal level to force the release of his federal returns.
The measure allows the chairs of the House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation to request in writing New York tax returns. So far, congressional Democrats have not embraced the New York bill, insisting they would rather see his federal filings.
Trump has broken with decades of tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate, but no law requires a presidential candidate to do so.
“Our republic has endured for over 200 years thanks to the system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald. “Consistent with this tradition, New York State now stands ready to assist Congress as it challenges the Trump Administration’s refusal to provide his tax records. The legislation we passed in New York will provide Congress with a direct path to what the President clearly wants to hide from the American people. No one is above the law.”
Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Democratic sponsor in the state Senate, said the measure is bigger than just the president.
“Moving forward, this new law helps Congress perform one of its most important responsibilities: oversight of the Office of the President,” he said.
The approval of the bill is an effort to embarrass the president, New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said.
The measure, which lawmakers gave final passage to in May, was broadened to include a range of officeholders. But for many lawmakers, the stated intent was to assist Democratic members of Congress in their review of the president’s finances.
“Make no mistake: This is aimed directly at the president of the United States,” Langworthy said during a stop at the Capitol. “There was no clamoring to get other peoples’ records. It’s an attempt to settle political scores.”
For now, congressional Democrats have not embraced the provision, preferring instead to continue to push for Trump’s federal tax returns, which they believe can provide more detailed information.
Cuomo, too, was initially hesitant to back the measure, pushing for it be broader. Langworthy on Monday, however, blamed the governor.
“If the governor wants to take on the president, maybe he ought to get into the race,” he said. “But he doesn’t have the courage.”