Cleaning up corruption is going to be a big issue for Democrats in 2020.
It worked well for Donald Trump as a candidate in 2016. His calls to “drain the swamp” electrified rally goers across the country.
As President, however, Trump refused to put his Trump Organization assets into a blind trust as he had promised to do.
Staff and cabinet members felt free to follow his example. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s family retained businesses with ties to the Chinese and Russian governments. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke entered a real estate deal with oil-producer Halliburton. And EPA Director Scott Pruitt came up with a number of ways to profit, including seeking a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife.
In August 2018 Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced an Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. It included restrictions on Federal employees becoming lobbyists, required the president and vice president to sell off corporate assets, and required the IRS to release eight years of tax returns for presidential and vice presidential candidates. Equally important, it restricted the ability of corporations to affect rules by agencies, such as the EPA and FDA, that were charged with governing them.
The bill died a quick death in the Senate Finance Committee.But a PAC End Citizens United poll found that anti-corruption outranked even Social Security/Medicare and economy/jobs among voters in swing House districts.
Democrats gained 41 seats in the U.S. House, and Nancy Pelosi, newly reinstated as House Speaker, made it a point to see the first bill introduced to the new Democratic majority– H.R. 1–took direct aim at political corruption and voter suppression.
Provisions in the nearly 600-page For the People Act would forbid politicians to use taxpayer money to settle sexual-harassment claims, require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of income-tax returns, and create an ethics code for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The House passed it March 8.
The Republican Senate has sat on it since.
And the corruption continues.
“Dark money,” i.e.,money from unknown sources, is flowing to the Trump campaign. Opensecrets.com states the amount at nearly $65 million. Among Democratic candidates, only John Delaney is said to have received any–about a quarter million total.
In June Congress learned that an Air Force flight crew had been put up at Trump’s golf resort in Scotland and asked for a full report. It came last week and indicates the U.S. military has spent up to $184,000 at that one resort.
According to Huffpost, Trump claimed that he didn’t order that–Air Force officials just had “good taste.”
And then Vice President Mike Pence and entourage stayed at Trump’s Irish hotel 180 miles from meetings he was attending in Dublin. The commute involved an hour-long car ride and a 40-minute flight. According to CNN, Pence’s chief of staff said the President hadn’t ordered the stay–he’d just recommended it.
And now, news is leaking about another type of corruption. President Trump asked the leader of the Ukraine to dig up some dirt on Joe Biden’s son. It’s like all the criticism over Russia’s role in his 2016 campaign hasn’t registered with him.
Trump followed up by withholding military aid to the Ukraine. The Sept. 20 Washington Post reported, “During August and September, lawmakers were engaged in…an unprecedented struggle with the administration to release nearly $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine.”
Trump released the money within a day.
Senator Warren has presented a new anti-corruption plan. This one has nearly 100 provisions.
Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019