Senator Maziarz made it very clear where he stood on the issues. Despite legislation that the State legislature had recently passed that was to shut down State-licensed wholesalers from continuing a 30- year practice of selling unstamped (untaxed) cigarettes to Native retailers, he felt strongly that the State had no authority to interfere with Native-to-Native trade and he was in full support of the trade we had established with Native-manufactured product.
The problem that we encountered was that we could not get a straight answer out of the Governor's office, the State Attorney General's Office or out of the State's Department of Taxation and Finance clarifying the State's legal, political or regulatory policy on Native-to-Native trade or on Native- manufactured goods. They flat out refused to tell us.
So we figured, surely a State Senator could get us an answer. The Senator agreed to let me work with his staff to draft a letter to Thomas Mattox, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance requesting clarity on the State's position and intent. While at the State Capital, I also decided to pursue support for answers from across the political aisle and asked State Senator Timothy Kennedy, Democrat from the 63rd Senate District, if he would sign onto such a letter. He agreed. So now we had Senators from both political parties pressing for a public announcement of a policy that by law should have been clear and unambiguous in the first place rather than a military secret.
The letter sent from Senators Maziarz and Kennedy on May 16, 2011 stated clearly that:
"It is our view that the State should not pursue an effort to collect taxes on Native Brands because such an effort would be contrary to the sovereign rights of the Native American Nations, and would be a severe blow to the Native retail economy."