Two things to remember about this weekend:
- You should finish your taxes, which are due on April 18.
- There will be a ton of people marching through downtown Denver.
This combination is not a coincidence. The local organizers of the March for President Donald Trump’s Taxes hope to use the power of Tax Day to focus public attention on Trump’s business dealings and his largely unprecedented refusal to release the details of his personal finances.
More than 25,000 people have said they’re interested or plan to attend in Denver, and the organizers have raised thousands of dollars to pay for insurance, permits, restrooms and more. Let’s review the key details, and then we’ll dive into an interview with Samantha Montgomery, one of the organizers.
“I do think that this march, specifically, will revitalize that anger in the conversation about transparency in the government, where Trump is getting his money, where it’s going to and just what exactly is happening in our own nation,” she said.
When and where: The event will convene at Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, April 15. Speeches will run from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., followed immediately by the march. The route is just about a mile. (See below.)
There’s also a pre-march comedy event tonight, April 11, for $10.99 at The Oriental Theater, 7 to 9 p.m.
What to bring: Attendance to the main event is free. There will not be food trucks. Signs are allowed, but not signs on sticks. Parking will be scarce.
Charities will be on hand to accept donations of nonperishable foods and gently used clothing.
How to behave: The organizers ask attendees to stay off the Civic Center flowerbeds, pick up trash and bring their own snacks, water and sunscreen. Restrooms will be available.
It started the day after the Women’s March put tens of thousands of people on the streets of Denver and scores of other cities. That’s when comedian Frank Lesser suggested that the “next mass protest” should be a rally for Trump to release his taxes.
Trump had repeatedly promised to release tax returns during his candidacy –– right after that pesky audit –– but aide Kellyanne Conway in January said that he would not.
In Denver, freelance ghostwriter Samantha Montgomery took up Lesser’s call by creating a Facebook page for a Tax Day event. One by one, three other organizers messaged her to join the effort.
“None of us knew each other, at all,” she said. “I don’t really believe in fate, exactly, but it just so happens that most things kind of fell into place for us, starting with the group that we have.”
That group includes Montgomery, professional event coordinator Sara Walsh, comedian Craig Martin and lawyer Jason Legg, president of the nonprofit Strengthening Democracy.
Over the months since the idea went viral, an alliance of Tax Day organizers has formed. More than 130 marches have been announced around the world, and dozens of organizers call into a conference line every Sunday to coordinate, Montgomery said.
In Denver, they’ve held a series of preview events, such as the comedy show scheduled for tonight. “We’re definitely developing a core community with those people that are showing up at repeated events,” she continued.
Meanwhile, the main event has attracted potential attendees by the thousands and more than $10,000 for costs through an online fundraiser, making it the second-largest fundraiser for a Tax Day march, according to Montgomery. (The Denver crew expects they’ll spend about $6,500 on permits, rental equipment and insurance, with the rest going to Strengthening Democracy.)
Montgomery attributes the early interest to continued public frustration with Trump.
“Almost every day, something new is coming out about his conflicts of interest – something about his family or his business that is shady,” she said.
“It just reiterates the point: We need to see your tax returns. And I think this march is going to reignite that anger for a lot of people, because it is so draining to hear about it every day.”
PolitiFact and FactCheck report that every presidential nominee since at least 1976 has released tax returns, except Gerald Ford, who released tax summary data but not his full returns.
The main event will serve as a call to action on a few fronts.
First, they’ll be collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that calls for all state and national candidates to release five years of tax returns before they’re allowed onto the ballot.
Speakers are to include U.S. Rep Jared Polis, and Colorado legislators Joe Salazar, Chris Hansen and Edie Hooton. The latter two are introducing their own bill to require tax returns from candidates, according to Montgomery. The idea is that these protests will demonstrate the public will for reform of the disclosure of financial information in American government.
“We’ll be right there, ready with our signatures. We’re trying to deliver the power back to the people,” Montgomery said.
And she hopes that this Saturday’s march will serve causes beyond just the tax request.
“We want to be more than just a march,” Montgomery said. “We want to be a platform for a network of change where people can come together and find their cause.”