By Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Adams himself confirmed that he would release his “tax information” — careful wording that might not mean his full returns — and reminded journalists that he did not have to do so.
“Now remember, I’m not required,” he said at a news conference. “We know that, right? Let’s be clear on that.”
Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, a watchdog group, said Mr. Adams never should have hesitated in deciding to release his tax returns.
“This is not a gotcha question from the press — this is the sort of thing that real people on the street pay attention to,” she said. “The mayor shouldn’t be playing cat and mouse with something that should be an obvious transparency measure.”
Questions about Mr. Adams’s residency led to one of the more bizarre moments of the mayoral campaign, when he gave a media tour of his apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn that he said was his primary residency. Journalists inspected his refrigerator and his son’s shoe collection.
Mr. Adams also co-owned a co-op in Fort Lee, N.J., with his partner, Tracey Collins, who lived there, and often spent time there and stayed overnight at Brooklyn Borough Hall, raising questions over where he truly lived. After taking office as mayor, Mr. Adams said he moved into Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence in Manhattan, though Mr. Adams said last month that he was only using one room in the dwelling.
John Kaehny, executive director of the watchdog group Reinvent Albany, said that he believed that having mayors voluntarily provide redacted versions of their tax returns was less important than the official disclosures required for elected officials by the Conflicts of Interest Board.
“I think a lot of it has been transparency theatrics,” he said. “If it really matters to the public, then let’s mandate it.”
Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.