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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

The President-Elect Must Divest

By Ghert Abbott


November 29, 2016
Tuesday AM

For the last 40 years it has been the norm for the president to divest himself of his business holdings and transfer the capital to a neutral third party who would then invest said capital in a blind trust. In this way administrations have avoided massive conflicts of interest, in which political or regulatory decisions could be made for the benefit of the president’s business holdings or purchased through doing business with the president. Such corrupt bargains are the norm in many third world countries, where presidents preside over shadowy business empires that are protected and enriched by the government.

In declaring his intent to transfer his business holdings to his children, our current president-elect has refused to properly divest himself. His personal business empire remains intact and there is great potential for him to use Federal power for its benefit. The president-elect has further compounded this massive conflict of interest by signaling his intent to elevate his children to high unofficial positions within the Federal government. The transition team reportedly asked that the president-elect’s children be given security clearances and recently Ivanka Trump sat in on a meeting between her father and the Japanese Prime Minister and shared a phone call between her father and the president of Argentina.

No one believes that the president-elect’s children are independent of him. Everyone knows that they are extensions of his person. They are thus perfectly positioned to use Federal information and Federal decisions for the benefit of their family’s business empire or trade Federal information and decisions for business favors. For example, the Trump organization could quietly be given stock in media, energy, manufacturing, financial and tech companies and in return help shape regulatory decisions that benefit said companies at the expense of the public, consumers, employees, or competitors.

Given the sizable risks of corruption, does anybody think these arrangements are a good idea? Can anyone argue with a straight face that they are in the best interests of the country? Congress has the legislative power to force the president-elect to properly divest himself and prevent him from passing sensitive information to his children. As Outside corporations and the Federal government play an extensive role in Alaska’s economy, our state has the most to lose from corporations striking corrupt bargains with the first family. One would therefore expect Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young to lead the charge on nipping this problem in the bud. To do otherwise is shortsighted political cowardice.

Ghert Abbott
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received November 27, 2016 - Published November 29, 2016




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