New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Monday that allows congressional committees to access President Donald Trump’s state tax returns.
The bill requires state officials to hand over the tax returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” by the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Senate Bill S5072A is effective immediately, though it could still be challenged by the Trump administration. And while Trump’s federal tax returns remain off-limits, much of the information sought could be just as easily found within the records of his home state.
Cuomo said the bill would help Congress to “fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.” But Republicans describe the new bill as a “bill of attainder,” unconstitutional because it is intended to target a specific individual.
“Our legislation isn’t about one person,” New York State Senator Brad Hoylman disagreed. “It’s about assisting Congress in its oversight abilities.” Cuomo echoed this sentiment, agreeing that “tax secrecy is paramount,” with “the exception being for bona fide investigative and law enforcement purposes.”
The bill finally takes effect after an internal six-week delay. Cuomo spokesperson Dani Lever explained that they allowed the time to ensure every detail of the bill and its amendments was sound. “Any responsible government would thoroughly review this bill, just as we will with more than 930 bills passed this session,” she said.
Of course, Lever admitted “how high the stakes are of this particular legislation.”
On Twitter, Trump has expressed his doubt in the motives behind this bill and the investigations of the state’s Attorney General Letitia James, saying she is “harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible.”
Cuomo’s response? “If [Trump] is worried about law enforcement, he shouldn’t break the law.”