Local law prof spearheads national tax march


  • Saturday’s tax march features Inflatable Trump chickens, as well as posters designed by Michael Kuch of Northampton. SUBMITTED IMAGES

Friday, April 14, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Jennifer Taub was fresh from the Boston Women’s March when she tweeted a thought. She didn’t expect that tweet would launch the next big movement.

Taub, city resident and law professor at Vermont Law School, said her tweet caught fire overnight.

“Let's plan a nationwide #DivestDonald and #showusyourtaxes protest for Saturday, April 15,” she wrote on a whim on Jan. 22.

Now, she’s a lead organizer among hundreds working to make that idea a reality this Saturday. The march is not only happening in Washington, where she’s investing most of her organizing efforts, but in 150 cities in the U.S. and internationally. Taub’s efforts were featured this week in The Guardian.

The marches will urge President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

“It was clear that we struck a nerve,” she said of the initial tweet, which was picked up and embedded in a Huffington Post article that same night. “It really became clear given the momentum and response that we had tapped into something that people were thinking and feeling.”

By the next morning, Taub said, interested helpers were flooding her inbox.

“People started emailing me and sending me replies, saying ‘how can we help you?’” she said. “It was all a bit mind-blowing.”

Suddenly, Taub was at the helm of a movement, in uncharted territory. The following Monday, she got in touch with comedian Frank Lesser, writer for the Colbert Report who had seconded her tweet, to brainstorm next steps.

“Very quickly an executive committee was formed,” she said. “We went from there.”

As a law professor, Taub specializes in business law, corporate corruption and white collar crime. She said a comment from Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway alleging that “people don’t care” about Trump’s tax returns sparked her initial tweet.

“I just thought that was arrogant and incorrect,” she said. “I think he owes it to the people to be transparent and show his tax returns like every president since Watergate.”

She said she hopes the march also draws attention to tax policy, a topic Congress is about to take up.

From inflatable chickens in the image of the president to posters showing him clothed in a tax form, Taub has been busily preparing for this weekend’s marches. While she did planning work and helped line up speakers, her husband, Michael Kuch, designed the posters, which he customized for some 40 local marches.

“I told myself I was only going to stay involved to help with the policy message,” she said, laughing. “And here I am, developing posters and ordering chickens.”

Taub says the whole Twitter post-turned-action is an example of how social media can propel movements, and it’s a reminder “we need to do more than just hit ‘like’ on social media.

“When I saw people reacting, I thought, I’ve got to do more than this,” she said. “This is a story of how social media can be used to energize, empower and inform. And then we can step outside those spaces and into real public spaces to be heard.”

The D.C. Tax March begins Saturday at noon in front of the U.S. Capitol. Those unable to make the trek can also find sister marches in Pittsfield and Boston. For more information, visit taxmarch.org.

“Everyone is working together and I’m so grateful that so many people felt moved to do this,” Taub said. “I think that’s what’s important.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com.