The New York Tax March, set for Saturday, is expected to draw thousands of people who will demand President Donald Trump release his tax returns. One of those protesters will be Wes Shockley, the event organizer who dreamed up the idea in January. It has mushroomed into planned protests in dozens of cities and towns across the country, and beyond. Shockley, an analytics manager based in New York, said he is amazed at how it has attracted so much support nationwide. Metro spoke with him about the purpose of the protest and why he thinks Congress should subpoena his tax returns.
How did you come up with the Tax March idea?
It was kind of coincidental that people thought of it independently around the same time. I made the Facebook event with my friend Liz on Jan. 22, right after the Women’s March. New York was the first [planned] actual event, and within a day or two there was one in Philadelphia and L.A. Then a few influential social media accounts referred to it and we touched base with them. Once D.C. organizers got involved they kind of took the helm and built a centralized national thing.
How is this similar to or different from the Women’s March?
We’ve built something off of the Women’s March model. I think our issue is a little big wonky and boring in a way, and might not have the mass appeal. But we have zero expectations that it will be anything like the Women’s March, which had hundreds of thousands of people in the street. I don’t think the resistance would be as energized, diversified or powerful if not for the Women’s March. They did something amazing that has never happened in history and we can’t take that away from them.
What do you want to see from supporters?
I hope that everybody comes and has a good time, and has an opportunity to express their frustrations in whatever safe, family friendly way they feel like. Trump is very concerned about crowd size and ratings, so we think that there’s definitely power in numbers — the more people to demonstrate the better because it’s his game. Numbers matter to Trump. We want everyone to sign the petitions calling for transparency. And they should call their congressmen and representatives using our web based app www.cluckyourrep.com. You put in your Zip Code and it brings up your representatives and how to contact them. Congress has the power to subpoena his tax returns.
Why do you think Congress should subpoena his tax returns?
It seems like there’s something he’s hiding. There’s a lot of information about conflicts of interests. We know that, based on reporting, that we need more clarity on his hotels and businesses, on his foreign interests. Not to mention the fact that independent sources have said his net worth isn’t near what he says it is.
What do you think about the pages leaked from his 2005 tax return?
It could have been an ally who released it. Looking at something that’s 12 years old has no meaning in the context of an organization that big and complicated and changing every year. Getting two pages of a multi-hundred page tax returns is not a substitute for decades of tax returns for a multibillion-dollar company. If his side leaked it, it’s a way to dismiss the demands for transparency. He’s a master of deflection.