'State of the Swamp' Spotlights Trump Team's Ethical Blindness

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Common Cause

'State of the Swamp' Spotlights Trump Team's Ethical Blindness

'This president’s first hundred days have seen no progress in ‘draining the swamp;’ instead, they have been the most corrupt in our national history.' (Image: Common Cause)

President Trump marks his 100th day in office on Saturday, a milestone he insists is meaningless even as he directs the White House staff in a frenzied effort to convince Americans he’s been the most successful president ever.

The approach of Day 100 has sparked news organizations, watchdog groups, lobbyists, political partisans, and heaven-only-knows-who-else to publish their own assessments of Trump’s performance. A thorough review of the reviews probably would take the careful reader another 100 days.

So let me help. Around here, we’re partial to “State of the Swamp,” a 20-page report put together principally by Joe Maschman, a Common Cause legal fellow, and released this week. It’s an easy and important, if sometimes depressing read, that catalogs the Trump team’s ethical and in some cases, legal shortfalls.

The report also includes a slate of recommendations, crafted to keep future presidents from following Trump’s bad example. They include:

  • Required disclosure of at least five years of federal tax returns by major party candidates for president and vice president, in order to give the voting public information regarding such candidates’ personal finances and potential conflicts of interest;
  • Strengthened personal financial disclosure requirements, see 5 U.S.C. app. §§ 101-111, to require president and vice president to disclose more detailed information regarding income and debt;
  • Required disclosure of White House visitor logs and visitor logs of other venues where the president regularly conducts business (e.g., H.R.1711 / S.721, MAR-A-LAGO Act);
  • Required electronic public disclosure via the White House website of ethics agreements signed by Executive Branch political appointees, and any waivers granted by the White House to the signing of such agreements;
  • Strengthened “revolving door” lobbying restrictions for political appointees both entering and leaving Executive Branch employment; and
  • Requiring the president and vice president to place all assets that create conflicts of interest into a blind trust managed by an independent trustee who oversees the conversion of the assets into conflict-free holdings (e.g., H.R.371 / S.65, Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017).

A passage near the end sums the report up. “TR had the Square Deal, FDR the New Deal; Trump prefers to self-deal. This president’s first hundred days have seen no progress in ‘draining the swamp;’ instead, they have been the most corrupt in our national history.”

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

We hope you’ll check it out and then take it to heart. This is still OUR government and the Trump team are OUR employees. It’s up to us to bring them back in line.

Dale Eisman

Dale Eisman is Common Cause's senior writer/editor.

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