As Democratic Ways and Means chairman Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.) continues to deliberately slow-walk efforts to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns to avoid appearing "too partisan," a coalition of progressive groups launched a campaign on Thursday to pressure Neal to stop the delays, listen to the overwhelming majority of the American public, and request Trump's tax returns "immediately."
"The American people have a right to know about how the commander-in-chief's actions in the White House have been influenced by his foreign business entanglements."
—Sean Eldridge, Stand Up America
"Democrats pledged to obtain Donald Trump's tax returns as part of their oversight agenda, and we will hold them accountable for that promise," said Maura Quint, executive director of Tax March, one of the groups leading the pressure campaign. "There is no need to slow-walk this. We have played this game for years, and Donald Trump will not willingly release his tax returns. The only solution is for Chairman Neal to request his tax returns immediately."
Also organized by Indivisible and Stand Up for America, the grassroots push comes as Neal is facing backlash for hesitating to take the first step of obtaining the president's personal and business tax returns: sending a request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
To help expedite this process, the progressive coalition sent Neal a pre-formatted request that is ready to deliver to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
As the groups launched their pressure campaign on Thursday, Neal signaled to reporters that he has no plans to heed grassroots demands to speed up the process.
"This has to be part of a carefully prepared and documented legal case, and it's not subject to just whim and the emotion of the moment," Neal said. "You can't step on your tongue. We're in this precarious period of time where the American people aren't quite sure what to believe about many, many issues, and this rush for clicks is inconsistent with the way that I've served."
But in a statement on Thursday, Sean Eldridge—president of Stand Up America—pointed out that "Chairman Neal has had two whole years of the Trump presidency to prepare for this moment."
"Enough with the delays," Eldridge said. "The American people have a right to know about how the commander-in-chief's actions in the White House have been influenced by his foreign business entanglements, including his secret negotiations with the Kremlin, and how his corrupt tax plan put money in his own pocket."
More than 125K people marched to demand that Trump release his tax returns. People are *still* demanding that they be obtained and released.
As Chair of @WaysMeansCmte, Neal has the power and responsibility to move quickly. We will continue to pressure him until he does.
— Ryan Thomas (@stateoftheryan) January 24, 2019
In addition to their pre-formatted letter, the groups are also working to drive calls and emails to Neal and other members of the Ways and Means Committee with the goal of pressuring lawmakers to speed up the process of obtaining the tax returns that Trump has refused to release voluntarily, flouting a 40-year presidential tradition.
.@RepRichardNeal has the power to obtain Trump’s tax returns—but he and House Democrats are stalling.
— Stand Up America (@StandUpAmerica) January 24, 2019
"As the newly appointed Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, it is your constitutional duty and responsibility to conduct effective oversight of President Donald Trump and his administration," the groups wrote in a letter to Neal. "Thus, on behalf of our organizations, respective members, and the more 125,000 Americans who took to the streets across the country to demand transparency from President Trump, we believe that it is vital that Congress performs its duties of oversight and obtain President Trump's personal and business tax returns immediately."
"This request is not about partisan politics, but is rooted in an attempt to understand how President Trump's numerous conflicts of interests and significant financial entanglements are influencing the policies of this administration," they continued. "This is also not a request that can be relegated to the back-burner—it is necessary to restore democratic norms of transparency and accountability."