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GOP senators kill bill to reveal presidential candidates’ taxes

Exterior view of the New York state Capitol

Exterior view of the New York state Capitol as legislative leaders work on the state budget in Albany on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Credit: AP

ALBANY — A state measure aimed at forcing candidates for president to reveal their income tax returns was defeated by Republicans in committee Monday.

The Senate Elections Committee voted 4-3 along party lines without discussion to kill the bill sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and prompted by the 2016 campaign of Republican Donald Trump.

Trump has broken decades of tradition in which major party candidates for president and sitting presidents have released their income tax returns. The common practice for statewide officials in New York provides an insight into potential conflicts of interest.

The bill would have required any candidate for president or vice president who wants to appear on the New York ballot release five years of income taxes at least 50 days before the general election.

Trump has said for a year that he wouldn’t release his taxes while they are under what he calls a routine audit. Democrats in Congress have continued to push the issue because of reports of ties between Trump’s close advisers and Russian officials.

“This is specific to the president of the United States,” said Sen. Liz Kruger (D-Manhattan).

Voting against the measure were Republican Sens. Fred Akshar, the committee chairman from Binghamton; George Amedore Jr. of Rotterdam; Patrick Gallavan of Buffalo; and Kathleen Marchione of Halfmoon.

Voting in favor the measure were Democratic Sens. Krueger, Leroy Comrie of St. Albans, and Martin Dilan of Brooklyn.

“Senate Republicans are carrying the water for Donald Trump to help keep his tax returns secret from New Yorkers,” Holyman said in a statement. “Without them, we don’t know how his tax cut plan will benefit himself and his family.”

Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reiff said the bill doesn’t appear to be a serious attempt at legislation, but rather aims to take a political shot.

“We are always happy to have a serious discussion about what constitutes sound public policy for the state of New York, but this sounds like a [public relations] stunt,” Reif said.

The Senate’s Democrats could still try to attach a similar measure to other bills, but legislation is controlled by the Senate’s Republican majority, which can block those efforts.

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