Friday, February 10, 2017

Day 21, 01 Year Trumpland: Corruption

Anyone with a professional license knows the deal. In grad school you begin the process of sitting through long classes on ethics. Even very good teachers struggle to keep the attention of students. So when you get your much coveted professional license, you still sit through at least six hours of an ethics class every two years. Too bad the president, his cabinet, and even Capitol Hill doesn't have the same requirement.


Yesterday, KellyAnne Conway, Counselor to the president, had the audacity to plug Ivanka Trump's products after the president had already complained via Twitter when Nordstom pulled her things from the shelf because they aren't selling. Sean Spicer stated, during the White House briefing, that KellyAnne had been "counseled." Today Fox News followed up on the story. KellyAnne assured the reporter that the president, her boss, backs her 100%. Understand, KellyAnne knows that if the president backs her 100%, nothing will happen to her. Nevertheless, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Government Ethics for violation of federal law and ethics standards. The government, and all government spokespersons, are supposed to represent all the people, not just the daughter of the president. KellyAnne's words were: "I'm going to give it a free commercial here. Go buy it today."

In a 2:00 AM vote, Tom Price owns biotech stock which is conflict of interest. He bought this stock while he proposed legislation that increased his personal financial gain. It is his ethical responsibility to serve patient and public interest first over the interest of a company or one individual. This is only the tip of the iceberg for the Trump cabinet.

Even more troubling, General Michael Flynn spoke to Russia about the sanctions that Russia was about to receive from the Obama administration. Think about that one. They have no established that he intended to convey a promise to take action after the president took office. Therefore, they have not established that the general has broken the law. Nevertheless, we have a horrible ethical question.

Let's be honest. The corruption begins with the president. He has refused to separate his business promotion and political interests. He has refused to reveal his tax return because he doesn't want the public to see his financial ties. The travel ban conveniently names countries where he does not have financial ties. And while he campaigned on making products in America, he and his daughter manufacture their products overseas. Indeed, the Ivanka Trump line is manufactured in China.

As a licensed professional, I would have been in front of an ethics board and likely lost my license for these kinds of violations. In Washington, we are calling it alternative facts, or the new normal.

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