Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

September 5, 2017

Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

President Trump visited storm-wracked, flood-ravaged Texas last Tuesday and offered victims these heartfelt words of comfort: “What a crowd. What a turnout!” He was accompanied by the current Mrs. Trump, easily identified by her five-inch heels and a black baseball cap helpfully labeled “FLOTUS.” If you want to buy Melania’s disaster-zone garb, the snakeskin Manolo Blahnik stilettos will set you back $600, and you’ll have to settle for a knock-off FLOTUS cap.

But you can get her husband’s hurricane hat, an Official 45th President “U-S-A” cap, by forking over $40 to the Donald Trump Re-Election Campaign. That’s right, 7 months into his first do-nothing term, Mr. Trump is already flogging hats to fashion-forward fans to fund his 2020 run. After all, that’s how he funded his 2016 campaign, remember?

President Trump and the missus got such bad press from Tuesday’s Texas stumble that they had a do-over on Saturday. Another chance to advertise the family head-wear business.

More:

“How President Trump turned hurricane relief into product placement for campaign swag,” Jordan Libowitz, Washington Post

“Trump’s ‘USA’ Hat Criticized by Ethics Group and Those Who Don’t Like Ugly Hats,” Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns

July 13, 2017

The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns
Walter Shaub, head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the federal agency charged with overseeing the executive branch ethics program and preventing conflicts of interest, resigned last week. President Trump has no ethics, so there really wasn’t much for Mr. Shaub to do.

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Salman Rushdie: The White House Weaponizes ‘Fake News’

June 6, 2017

In April, author Salman Rushdie was a panelist at A Dangerous Moment: Shades of Red and Blue, hosted by The Ethics Centre and sponsored by The Guardian.

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Conflicts of Interest: The President Is Still a Businessman

May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump is advised by his daughter and son-in-law while profiting from the world-wide Trump Organization, run by his sons. NPR’s Marilyn Geewax explains the ethics and conflicts-of-interest issues.

Related:

“Trump’s connection to his businesses leaves more questions than answers in first 100 days,” Alexander Mallin, ABC News

“After 100 Days of Trump, America’s Gotten Corruption Fatigue,” Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone

Updates:

“Trump’s Business Ties to Middle East Precede Him,” Steve Eder and Jesse Drucker, New York Times

“Donald Trump Jr., Dubai business partner discuss ‘new ideas,'” Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

“Trump Family Bolsters Its Dubai Connection,” Russ Choma, Mother Jones

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Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

April 10, 2017

Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appears to have had an affair with a top aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married woman. That’s been pretty embarrassing for the “Love Gov,” a former Sunday school teacher, who was married at the time, but it gets worse. While Ms. Mason was the governor’s senior political adviser, it still wasn’t legal for him to use campaign funds to pay for her legal defense. As usual, the cover-up is worse than the sexy-time crime.

On Wednesday the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Governor Bentley violated the Alabama Ethics Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act. On Friday the state’s House Judiciary Committee released a 3,000-page report with scandalous details about security personnel seeing Ms. Mason “leaving the office with her hair tousled and her clothing in disarray,”mushy text messages between her and the Gov, and allegations the governor threatened his wife’s staffers for talking about the affair. On Saturday the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the legislature can go ahead with impeachment proceedings, and lawmakers are expected to begin impeachment hearings today.

Updates:

“Robert Bentley, Alabama Governor, Resigns Amid Scandal,” Alan Blinder, New York Times

“Alabama Guv Resigns, Is Convicted On 2 Campaign Finance Charges,”Allegra Kirkland, TPM Livewire

“Kay Ivey becomes governor; promises open administration,” Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

“Why It Took Alabama’s Governor So Long to Resign,” alan Greenblatt, Governing

“Robert Bentley joins a growing list of Alabama governors who had trouble with the law,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“How Alabama’s Shady Governor Cultivated a Culture of Disenfranchisement,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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Access to the President? Join the Club!

February 20, 2017

Access to the President? Join the Club!
Membership has it’s privileges, especially for those who shelled out $300,000 to join the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.

Back in November, President elect Donald J. Trump paraded his prospective cabinet officers into the clubhouse of his Bedminster golf club for job interviews. Now it turns out he invited random club members to sit in. Politico just got the audio, recorded by someone who was in the room. Here’s a transcript:

“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything. You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.”

“We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State. We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along.”

The pattern continues now that Donald Trump is President and Golf-Cheat-In-Chief. While he was entertaining Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in the public dining room of his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida ($200,000 membership fee), aides alerted him about a North Korean ballistic missile test, and they discussed the US response in full view and earshot of the club’s members. One club member even got a selfie with the serviceman who carries the “nuclear football.” House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz was not amused.

Mr. Trump believes that only the rich should play golf, so if you have the bucks to pay and play, you can chat with him about the nation’s business as well as your own.

More:

“Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people,'” Darren Samuelsohn and Anne Karni, Politico

“Trump ran a campaign based on intelligence security. That’s not how he’s governing.” Philip Bump, Washington Post

“Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power,” Nicholas Confessore, Maggie Haberman, and Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Trump’s Presidency ‘Enhances’ a $200,000 Mar-a-Lago Membership,” Chas Danner, New York Magazine

“Democrats demand Mar-a-Lago list of members, visitors,” Matthew Nussbaum, Politico

“Shouldn’t We Know Who Else Is at the ‘Winter White House’?” George Zornick, The Nation

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Trump’s Tax Disclosure: Never Mind!

January 23, 2017

Trump's Tax Disclosure: Never Mind!
Presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that he would release his tax documents. He said it well before he threw his hat in the GOP ring, back in 2014. As the Republican candidate he came up with a lame excuse for avoiding the tax disclosures made by White House hopefuls since 1970: He said he couldn’t do it since he was under audit, a specious argument, as himself finally admitted. He even claimed he would release his tax forms after the election, if the audit took that long.

Sunday morning, on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Trump spokescreature Kellyanne Conway admitted that it’s not going to happen, since voters already elected him without any tax facts. She say’s voters don’t care, but 74% of Americans — including half of Trump’s supporters — want him to release his tax forms.

Since inauguration Day, over 200,000 citizens have signed a We the People petition on the White House website asking the President to “immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.” 100,000 signatures is enough to require an official response. It is doubtful that Ms. Conway’s raised middle finger meets that requirement.

What is Mr. Trump hiding? Perhaps:

— He hasn’t paid any taxes, as his previous state tax releases indicate

— He’s not as rich as he claims

— He hasn’t given as much to charity as he claims

— He has had previously undisclosed foreign business dealings, perhaps with Russia

Wikileaks, Trump’s best bud during the campaign, says it will release the new president’s tax returns for him if they can be obtained. “Trump’s breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts,” tweeted the organization.

UPDATES:

“Conway Backtracks On Trump’s Tax Returns, Saying He’s Still Under Audit,” Matt Shuham, TPM Livewire

“Mnuchin: Trump has ‘no intention’ of releasing tax returns,” Julie Bykowicz and Jill Colvin, Associated Press

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Justice Scalia Lived as He Died

March 10, 2016

Justice Scalia Lived as He Died
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in luxury at a ranch resort owned by a Texas millionaire who had business before the court last year:

“Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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Ted Cruz, Senator from Goldman Sachs

January 14, 2016

Ted Cruz, Senator from Goldman Sachs
While running for his U.S. Senate seat in 2012, Texas Republican Ted Cruz failed to disclose a $500,000 campaign loan from Goldman Sachs, reports the New York Times. That’s especially awkward since Ted’s missus, Heidi Nelson Cruz, is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs in Houston. In fact, Chad Sweet, Cruz 2016 presidential campaign manager, worked for Goldman Sachs for 10 years. Candidate Cruz has recently tried to distance himself from Goldman as part of his hardly credible populist pose.

Besides that sizeable low-interest loan from his wife’s bosses, Mr. Cruz apparently got one from Citibank, too. Other campaigns have been fined for failing to make such disclosures to the FEC. The Cruz campaign’s response to the Times story: “Ooops.”

More:

“Ted Cruz Hates ‘New York Values’ But Sure Loves New York Money,” Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

“Ted Cruz’s Loan from Goldman Sachs Was a Bullish Bet on the Obama Economy,” David Nir, AlterNet

Related:

“Goldman Sachs Will Pay $5 Billion To Settle Financial-Crisis Claims,” Jim Zarroli, NPR News

“The Great American Bubble Machine,” Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

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Dr. Carson’s Snake Oil

November 4, 2015

Dr. Carson's Snake Oil

One of the so-called “gotcha” questions Carl Quintanilla asked Dr. Ben Carson on CNBC’s October 28th reality show was about his involvement with Mannatech, a shady medical supplement company. “I didn’t have an involvement with them,” the candidate replied. “That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda,” the Doc harrumphed. A great media moment, but denying a verifiable fact is never a good long-term strategy.

Ten months before the debate, Jim Geraghty of the National Review described Ben Carson’s decade-long relationship with the purveyor of unproven “neutraceutical” nostrums, a firm that paid $4 million to settle a false medical claims suit, a firm thouroughly discredited in a 2007 ABC 20/20 investigation.

So Mr. Quintanilla’s debate question should have come as no surprise. Ben Carson shilled for Mannatech on PBS in 2014 and The Wall Street Journal‘s Mark Maremont had outlined Dr. Carson’s decade-long relationship with Mannatech just weeks before the CNBC event.

Since the debate, has Dr. Carson addressed the fact that for 10 years he promoted medical hokum for money? No. He tried to sidestep the issue of his personal and professional ethics by blaming his political opponents for raising this controversy, another clear falsehood. So much for the moral high ground.

More:

“What Ben Carson’s Mannatech Answer Tells Us,” Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Springtime for Grifters,”New York Times

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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