By Byron Brown

Donald Trump’s presidency has brought the standard for openness and accountability for elected representatives to new lows. His pointed refusal to release his tax returns has raised serious questions about his conflicts of interest, as he has withheld vital financial information from the public eye.

When it comes to this issue, Democrats should not reduce themselves to the Republicans’ level. But to date, candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams, have followed President Trump’s lead. With only a month left before the primary election, Nixon and Williams still refuse to make public multiple years of their tax returns.

The tradition of releasing multiple years of tax returns is well established. Many candidates have released 10 years. Even Republican George Pataki released 14 years of his tax returns. The Democratic Party has endorsed candidates Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Hochul, Comptroller DiNapoli, and Letitia James for Attorney General – who have all released at least five years of tax returns.

We can’t afford to have Democratic candidates who don’t share the Party’s commitment to transparency and openness. That’s why the State Party adopted a resolution at our May convention requiring all candidates for public office to release their tax returns in full. There’s only one reason candidates don’t release their tax returns: they have something to hide.

In fact, Jumaane Williams himself sponsored legislation, which mandated a candidate release five years of tax returns, yet he now refuses to do so himself. Mr. Williams was forced into a corner and agreed to release five years of taxes when Lieutenant Governor Hochul agreed to a debate. She did. He then said he wanted a time and date for the debate. Lieutenant Governor Hochul called Williams’ bluff and agreed to the Gotham Gazette debate on the morning of August 29. New Yorkers are still waiting on Williams to release five years of taxes. The clock is ticking.

In the governor’s race, candidate Cynthia Nixon has followed the same path. She railed against corporations and tax loopholes, yet she has refused to release five years of tax returns. Ms. Nixon wants a serious debate – she should release five years of taxes. In order to stand before the Democrats of this state, Ms. Nixon must come clean and show the public the full picture of who she is. New Yorkers have a right to know if Ms. Nixon’s words match her actions. Only then can the people of this state make an informed decision, and the Governor has said he will debate.

It’s past time for Ms. Nixon and Mr. Williams to show the public their tax returns. We hold true to the progressive principles of transparency, openness and accountability. We are not the party of Trump. Now is the time for accountability. Tick, tock.

Byron Brown is the mayor of Buffalo, New York and Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee.