Thus far, President Trump has managed to stonewall efforts by Democrats to obtain his federal tax returns, with those efforts likely to be held up for some time, possibly needing to go all the way to the Supreme Court. But perhaps not so with his state taxes. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new bill into law today specifically crafted to allow the release of state tax returns to Congress upon the request of any of three committees. It would apply to the President, as well as some other executive branch officials and political party leaders. (NY Times)
As the battle over President Trump’s federal taxes intensifies in Washington, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a bill on Monday to allow congressional committees to access the president’s state tax returns.
The bill requires state tax officials to release the president’s state returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” on the request of the chair of one of three congressional committees: the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
It is effective immediately, though it is unclear whether it would be challenged by the Trump administration, or used by the congressional committees; the Ways and Means Committee, for instance, has said previously that it remains focused on pursuing Mr. Trump’s federal tax information.
What’s going on here seems fairly obvious, despite the Governor’s best efforts to paint a more benign face on it. This appears to be a clear example of a bill of attainder, which means there should be grounds to immediately challenge and perhaps overturn it. You’re not allowed to use your executive or legislative power as a cudgel and craft laws that are specifically aimed at one person or a specific group of people just to advance your own political agenda.
Keep in mind that in all of the flurry of legal activity taking place in the offices of the New York Governor and the new Attorney General, demanding documents and records from the President and his various businesses, there has yet to be a single charge of a specific crime brought. These are fishing expeditions, plain and simple. And now, this new law opens a path to have the state turn over someone’s tax returns for similarly vacuous reasons. On top of that, Congress hasn’t even asked New York for Trump’s tax returns. The #RESIST movement in the state government is just freestyling here.
Of course, there’s another thing that Governor Cuomo and his Democratic allies should probably keep in mind. Trump won’t be in office forever. One of these days there will be a Democrat in the Oval Office and it might even be someone from New York. There are a few of them running next year, though they are among the severe long shots. And if there’s a New York Democrat elected but the GOP holds one chamber in the legislative branch, they might start getting curious about the new person’s taxes.
What will you do then… rush to repeal the law? Or just be completely honest and amend it to say that it only applies to Republicans.