State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal has made a habit of introducing bills aimed at former President Donald Trump, and Tuesday’s indictment has given him inspiration for his latest one: a proposal to allow cameras in New York courts in an effort to draw even more eyeballs to his indictment and trial. Although attempts to repeal the law banning cameras date further back than the Trump indictment, the situation brought renewed attention to the matter and provided a high profile case to make the case to the public for its necessity.
Hoylman-Sigal asserted that New Yorkers are “repulsed” by the former president’s actions, including inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and not disclosing his tax records.
“I take a special responsibility as a New Yorker – the original home state of Donald Trump – to ensure that the public gets the truth about his background,” Hoylman-Sigal said. “It’s our responsibility to bring those issues to bear.”
What’s in it for Hoylman-Sigal? National spotlight? “This is a New York issue, to the extent that it reverberates nationally … So be it,” he told City & State.
Try as he might, Donald Trump just can’t escape his home state. Despite relocating to Florida following his presidency, Trump found himself back in New York City for his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
But as much as Trump has tried to distance himself from New York, Democratic lawmakers in the state have tried even harder to make the former president’s longtime home as inhospitable as possible. The Manhattan district attorney may be fighting for criminal charges against him, but state lawmakers, particularly Hoylman-Sigal, have for years proposed bills targeted specifically at Trump to make his life just a little bit more difficult.
Perhaps the most high profile examples came in 2019, when the state Legislature approved not one but two bills aimed at the then president. The first, called the TRUST Act, sponsored by Hoylman-Sigal and former Assembly Member David Buchwald, permitted the state Department of Taxation and Finance to turn over Trump’s tax returns to Congress if certain committees in the body requested them. The legislation came when the House was attempting to access Trump’s federal tax returns as part of its investigation into him.
The legislation passed in 2019 after similar legislation called the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public – or TRUMP – Act, also sponsored by Hoylman-Sigal failed to pass that year and in years past. It would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to file five years worth of federal tax returns with the state Board of Elections.
The second bill from 2019 aimed to make it easier for the state to prosecute New York friends and allies of Trump he pardoned of federal crimes while in office. Prior to the legislation, state law prohibited prosecutors from pursuing state-level charges against people who have already faced federal charges for the same crimes.
Most recently, the Senate passed the No Citizen is Above the Law Act – sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris – a bill meant to remove the statute of limitations for criminal and civil prosecutions for people who served as president of the United States. “Any president who breaks the law should be held accountable without regard to the time they spend in office,” Gianaris said in a statement last month. “We must close the loophole that allows presidents to escape culpability by exploiting statutes of limitations due to presidential immunity.”
On a lighter note, state lawmakers have been trying for seven years to remove the former president’s name from a Hudson Valley park. Legal questions about the state’s authority to do so have stalled the efforts. A bill, sponsored by Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Dana Levenburg, has gained new momentum. Levenberg, who recently took over as lead sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, represents the district the park lies in and says she’s received call after call from constituents demanding Trump’s name be removed. Both sponsors assert the fanfare surrounding the impending criminal case may also help finally get the bill over the finish line.