To Defend Democracy, We Must Demand Financial Transparency from Trump

From executive appointments to policy, understanding Trump’s personal financial interests will be essential to judging his adminstration

— by Jeff Hauser
_whereareyourtaxes

As we hear of a settlement in the “Trump University” civil fraud case brought in part by New York State Attorney General and learn more and more about potential Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the phrase “personnel is policy” takes on an unfortunate new meaning.
Will Trump’s appointees to high government office ensure Donald Trump does not use control of the executive branch to enrich himself and his family?

Trump enriching himself as president is not an idle or libelous question. Trump himself raised the prospect in 2000 to Fortune Magazine, telling them that “[i]t’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Matt Yglesias puts the threat to the rule posed by Donald Trump and the “Trump Organization” in stark language, arguing “Trump’s first 100 days could also be the last 100 days in which America’s system of republican government can be saved.” Yglesias fears that the potential for corruption is so great that “political favor” might become “the primary driver of economic success.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial page employs less ominous language to come to a surprisingly similar conclusion, noting problems posed by the fact that “The President is exempt from federal conflict-of-interest law.”

As Bloomberg put it, the Trump family business poses an “unprecedented potential conflicts of interest.”

The last line of defense against the installation of a kleptocracy is the U.S. Senate, which can insist that President Trump meet the same standards for public disclosure and avoidance of conflict of interest as past presidents and presidential candidates of both political parties.

The U.S. Senate can and should demand transparency into Trump family finances. Moreover, the U.S. Senate can and should demand an end to the inherent conflicts of interest posed by the ongoing existence of “The Trump Organization.”

The Senate can do so by refusing to confirm any nominations until Trump takes the following steps to promote faith that a Trump presidency will not enrich himself and his family:

  1. Releases his tax returns;
  2. Releases a detailed and current financial disclosure that includes beneficial ownership information on all “shell companies”* that are part of the Trump Organization;
  3. Follows the advice of the The Wall Street Journal editorial page that “Mr. Trump’s best option is to liquidate his stake in the company” via “a leveraged buyout or an initial public offering”; and
  4. These disclosure requirements should be treated as annual requirements.

Having President Trump and his children reconstitute a “Trump Organization” to receive payouts from foreign countries and rent-seeking businesses is a serious concern that cannot be prevented merely by an ensuring initial clean post-liquidation start. The Saturday Washington Post includes an article suggesting that diplomats understand the advantages of spending money at Trump’s DC hotel.

There should be particular concern about all non-publicly traded assets he and his children might hold. Trump and his children cannot be allowed to use “shell companies” to hide his actual business partners, creditors, and assets, including dealings with foreign governments or companies with significant potential dealings with the executive branch.

Without these comprehensive actions, Senators have no way to know what conflicts of interest they should be concerned about.

Does the Trump Organization have business dealings with, for example, Japan? If so, that suggests a line of questions for a potential Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Is a Trump company being investigated by the SEC? That matters for potential SEC Commissioners.

Even a Trump infrastructure bill raises questions. Would Trump follow the Dennis Hastert precedent and put forward highway projects designed to increase value of Trump family owned properties?

Trump announces a tax plan – would it benefit him?

Trump Energy Department actions – would they boost Trump family energy investments?

And assets are not the only issue. Senators need to know if any appointments constitute Trump repaying literal debts.

Every part of the federal government can be used to benefit private interests, and thus for all positions, the Senate requires clarity into Trump’s financials.

That goes for Trump-era law enforcement as well. David Dayen has wondered if the Trump win provides “a massive lifeline to Deutsche Bank, the German financial firm that has been rocked recently by rumors that they would have to pay a $14 billion fine to the Justice Department over crisis-related mortgage abuses.”

What’s the basis of Dayen’s curiosity? The fact “that one of Deutsche Bank’s biggest borrowers – Trump – will soon be sitting in the White House.”

Senators need to know how to provide oversight of the executive branch. To have confidence in Trump appointments and governance, Senators must demand both transparency and an end to conflicts of interest. Otherwise, it is all too likely he and his family will make money off control of the executive branch.


Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Jeff Hauser runs the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an effort to increase scrutiny on executive branch appointments and ensure that political appointees are focused on serving the public interest, rather than personal professional

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Congress’ Tax Agenda: Businesses Before Working Families

— by Alexandra Thornton and Samuel Rubinstein

As Congress digs into its fall legislative agenda, one important item of business it faces is which expiring tax provisions to extend and for how long. So far, the Senate has managed to sidestep this question by approving a bill that extends many already expired provisions for two years. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, has passed bills that make selected expiring provisions permanent. Unfortunately, these bills strongly favor businesses at the expense of working families.

The House voted to make permanent two expiring provisions—known as the R&D credit and Section 179 expensing—that have obvious benefits for corporations and other businesses. However, 2009 changes to the existing Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit—which helped lift an additional 1.8 million Americans out of poverty and provided needed support for higher education—are all due to expire in 2017 unless Congress takes action. For roughly the same amount of money as the R&D credit and Section 179 extensions, Congress could permanently extend the 2009 temporary expansions of three tax provisions that benefit working families and their children.

Read more …


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Elections Have Consequences—The 2015 Republican Agenda

—by Rich Dunn, RNDC 2nd Vice Chairman

According to press reports, a week after the election key GOP legislators and party officials set up an ad hoc committee to begin drafting an agenda for Nevada’s 2015 legislative session. Below are a couple of dozen ideas they’ve come up with so far. If you’re one of the Democrats who voted to stay home instead of casting a ballot in the general election, here’s what you voted for:

  1. Disenfranchise all voters without photo ID’s.
  2. Repeal the Modified Business Tax, the 1.17% payroll tax that only applies to businesses with more than $62,500 in quarterly wages.
  3. Institute a school voucher program to transfer public school funding to private schools, eliminate teacher seniority rights, play teachers off against each other for bonuses, and deregulate charter schools.
  4. Allow a one-third minority to veto ballot tax measures, just as they can now in the legislature.
  5. Allow concealed firearms on school and college campuses.
  6. Nullify all local gun control laws.
  7. Demand that federal lands be “ceded back” to the state. It should be noted that Nevada never owned any of the federal lands within Nevada’s borders, and acceptance of federal jurisdiction was put into the state constitution as a condition of admission. Besides, the State of Nevada doesn’t have the money needed to manage these lands, so any cession of federal lands to the state could only mean selling them off to private interests. That wouldn’t go down very well with ranchers, who currently graze their cattle on BLM- and Forest Service-managed ranges for almost nothing.
  8. Eviscerate construction defect and product defect laws.
  9. Transfer the cost of Medicaid expansion from the government to the beneficiaries.
  10. Require proof of insurance for issuance of driver privilege cards.
  11. Restrict EBT card use “at bars, strip clubs and brothels.” This item reveals the GOP’s ignorance of existing law. The DWSS website says that EBT cards cannot be used for “any non-food item, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, toothpaste and cosmetics; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; vitamins and medicines; any food that will be eaten in the store; hot foods that are ready to eat; or any food marketed to be heated in the store.” It’s safe to say that these cards are not being used at bars, strip clubs or brothels, but low-information voters who listen to Republican bloviations will no doubt believe they are.
  12. Restrict Millennium Scholarships to citizens and documented aliens (dream on, dreamers).
  13. Repeal the 2013 session’s energy bill (SB123), which closed the Moapa coal-fired power plant and provided ratepayer subsidies to NV Energy for investment in renewables and natural gas.
  14. Repeal the state’s “hate crime” law (NRS 193.1675) that provides enhanced penalties for crimes targeting victims because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, color, national origin, gender identity or physical or mental disability.
  15. Enact recommendations of Gov. Gibbons’ SAGE Commission, which among other things called for reducing health and retirement benefits for state employees, closing rural prisons, privatizing urban prisons, and outsourcing highway maintenance.
  16. Convert the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, a change that will limit employees’ ability to cash out when they exit government service.
  17. Eliminate “prevailing wage” requirements for public works and school construction to depress construction wages and put union contractors at a competitive disadvantage.
  18. Resurrect the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project.
  19. Further weaken collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.
  20. Repeal the state minimum wage.
  21. Put limits on the pay of constitutional officers and their chiefs of staff.
  22. Subject confidential public employee union contract negotiations to the Open Meeting Law.
  23. Repeal Common Core education standards.
  24. Further deregulate home schooling.

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POPVOX’s Countdown of the Top Bills in 2013


I frequently use POPVOX to explore information about a bill — what’s in the text of a bill, who introduced it, what other’s are saying about, who those others are (individuals and corporations/organizations) — and to write a letter of opposition or support to my elected representatives.  My observation is that the right-wing nut jobs have more of a propensity to support/oppose legislation than do reasonable folks.  Those of us who oppose the right-wing agenda need to become more active and vocal so our elected representatives in Congress understand they need to support us too — not just the very loud and radical right wing base.

Here’s a copy of an email I received today from POPVOX itemizing the top 50 bills that garnered the most activity on POPVOX during the first half of the 113th Congress:

by RACHNA on DECEMBER 31, 2013

Members of Congress introduced more than 6,600 bills and resolutions in 2013. The Second Amendment and gun control legislation dominated the top bills list, the majority of which were introduced in the beginning of the year. Not surprisingly, the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” was also a top priority among POPVOX users, and also the House has voted to repeal some or all of it nearly 50 times.  

The Countdown of the Top 50 Bills

Together, POPVOX users from every state and Congressional district sent more than 900,000 messages to their lawmakers in Washington. These are the top 50 bills and proposals that POPVOX users weighed in on with Congress in 2013, ranked by the aggregate number of combined support and opposition.

  • HR 321
    #50 Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act

    Would allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct crucial scientific research into firearm safety, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). 

    146 Support | 3,076 Oppose

  • HR 1369
    #49 Firearm Risk Protection Act

    Would require gun buyers to have liability insurance coverage before being allowed to purchase a weapon and imposes a fine of $10,000 if an owner is found not to have the required coverage; service members and law enforcement officers are exempt from this insurance requirement, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

    99 Support | 3,157 Oppose

  • HR 965
    #48 Banning Saturday Night Specials

    Would prohibit the possession or transfer of junk guns, also known as Saturday Night Specials.

    152 Support | 3,133 Oppose

  • HR 900
    #47 Cancel the Sequester Act

    A one-sentence bill that would cancel the sequester, or across-the-board federal spending cuts that were implemented in 2013.

    2,406 Support | 899 Oppose

  • HR 890
    #46 Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act

    Extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through December 2013 and overturns President Obama’s efforts to waive welfare work requirements, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). This bill passed in the House on March 13, 2013, and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.

    3,208 Support | 120 Oppose

  • HR 1005
    #45 Defund Obamacare Act

    To deauthorize appropriation of funds, and to rescind unobligated appropriations, to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

    2,905 Support | 478 Oppose

  • HR 1094
    #44 Safeguard American Food Exports Act

    To prohibit the sale or transport of equines and equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption.

    2,727 Support | 707 Oppose

  • HR 61
    #43 Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

    Would stop the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from providing federal family planning assistance under Title X to abortion businesses until they certify they won’t provide and refer for abortions, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

    934 Support | 2,513 Oppose

  • HR 431
    #42 Gun Transparency and Accountability (Gun TRAC) Act

    Would once again allow ATF to use information on guns traced to crimes; it would remove the requirement that background checks be destroyed within 24 hours; and it would eliminate the ban on federally required inventory audits of gun dealerships, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Jackie Speier(D-CA).   

    102 Support | 3,348 Oppose

  • HR 793
    #41 Firearm Safety and Buyback Grant Act

    Would establish a grant program within the Department of Justice in which grants would be eligible to state, tribal, and local units of government and law enforcement agencies to carry out anti-violence campaigns, gun safety campaigns, and firearms buyback programs, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

    98 Support | 3,370 Oppose

  • HR 2959
    #40 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

    To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State. This bill was passed by the House in the 112th Congress, but hasn’t been voted on in this Congress.

    3,106 Support | 385 Oppose

  • HR 236
    #39 Crackdown on Deadbeat Gun Dealers Act

    Would increase the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to: Inspect federal firearms licensees (FFLs) for compliance with recordkeeping requirements by increasing the allowable inspections per year from one to three; Increase the penalties for knowingly misrepresenting any facts about a firearms sale; and Authorize the Attorney General to suspend a dealer’s license and assess civil penalties for firearms violations, including failure to have secure gun storage or safety devices, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI).

    184 Support | 3,319 Oppose

  • Guns
    #38 Toomey-Schumer-Manchin Amendment

    A bipartisan group of senators — Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen.Joe Manchin (D-WV) — introduced a compromise proposal to expand background checks. The proposal would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales. The Senate rejected the proposal in a 54 to 46 vote on April 17, 2013 — six votes short of the 60 needed.

    197 Support | 3,343 Oppose

  • S 47
    #37 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

    To reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and includes measures on campus safety, tools to reduce domestic violence homicides, and protections for at-risk groups such as immigrants, tribal victims and members of the LGBT community, according to bill sponsors, Sen. Patrick Leahy(D-VT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). This bill was enacted into law after being signed by the President on March 7, 2013.

    573 Support | 3,008 Oppose

  • S 374
    #36 Fix Gun Checks Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.Reported by Committee on Mar 12, 2013, and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

    218 Support | 3,532 Oppose

  • HR 45
    #35 Repeal “Obamacare”

    To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This bill passed in the House on May 16, 2013 by a 229-195 vote, and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.

    2,970 Support | 899 Oppose

  • HR 238
    #34 Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act

    Would prohibit gun dealers whose licenses are revoked to convert their inventory to personal collections, to be sold without conducting background checks on purchasers, under current law, according to bill sponsor, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

    178 Support | 3,714 Oppose

  • HR 35
    #33 Safe Schools Act

    Would repeal federal laws mandating “gun free zones” around schools, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX).

    3,970 Support | 185 Oppose

  • HR 538
    #32 PLEA Act

    To protect the Nation’s law enforcement officers by banning the Five-seveN Pistol and 5.7 x 28mm SS190, SS192, SS195LF, SS196, and SS197 cartridges, testing handguns and ammunition for capability to penetrate body armor, and prohibiting the manufacture, importation, sale, or purchase of such handguns or ammunition by civilians.

    143 Support | 4,051 Oppose

  • HR 575
    #31 Second Amendment Protection Act

    Would prohibit funding to the United Nations unless the President can certify that a United Nations treaty does not infringe on individual rights protected by the Constitution, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). 

    4,083 Support | 145 Oppose

  • HR 437
    #30 Assault Weapons Ban

    Would ban the future sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of 157 specific kinds of semi-automatic guns and impose the same restrictions on ammunition magazines that contain more than 10 rounds. Excludes 2,258 legitimate hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns by specific make and model, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).

    160 Support | 4,227 Oppose

  • S 815
    #29 Employment Non-Discrimination Act

    To prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill passed in the Senate on November 7, 2013 by a 64 to 32 vote, and is awaiting consideration by the House.

    233 Support | 4,178 Oppose

  • HR 227
    #28 Buyback Our Safety Act

    To establish a gun buyback grant program.

    134 Support | 4,292 Oppose

  • S 2
    #27 Sandy Hook Elementary School Violence Reduction Act

    To reduce violence and protect the citizens of the United States.

    169 Support | 4,357 Oppose

  • HR 25
    #26 Fair Tax Act

    Would repeal all Federal corporate and individual income taxes, payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, capital gains taxes, the death tax, and gift taxes – and replace them with a revenue-neutral personal consumption tax, according to bill sponsor, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA). 

    4,219 Support | 333 Oppose

  • HR 226
    #25 Support Assault Firearms Elimination and Reduction for our Streets Act

    To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against tax for surrendering to authorities certain assault weapons.

    143 Support | 4,488 Oppose

  • S 174
    #24 Ammunition Background Check Act

    To appropriately restrict sales of ammunition.

    187 Support | 4,769 Oppose

  • S 336
    #23 Marketplace Fairness Act

    Would give states the option to require the collection of sales and use taxes already owed under State law by out-of-state businesses, rather than rely on consumers to remit those taxes to the States—the method of tax collection to which they are now restricted, according to bill sponsor, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).

    205 Support | 4,861 Oppose

  • HR 137
    #22 Fix Gun Checks Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.

    522 Support | 4,595 Oppose

  • S 147
    #21 Common Sense Concealed Firearms Permit Act

    To establish minimum standards for States that allow the carrying of concealed firearms.

    215 Support | 5,017 Oppose

  • S 34
    #20 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act

    To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.

    390 Support | 4,842 Oppose

  • S 22
    #19 Gun Show Background Check Act

    To establish background check procedures for gun shows.

    442 Support | 5,049 Oppose

  • S 82
    #18 Separation of Powers Restoration & Second Amendment Protection Act

    To provide that any executive action infringing on the Second Amendment has no force or effect, and to prohibit the use of funds for certain purposes.

    5,728 Support | 243 Oppose

  • HR 410
    #17 Restore the Constitution Act

    To provide that any executive action infringing on the Second Amendment has no force or effect, and to prohibit the use of funds for certain purposes.

    5,914 Support | 263 Oppose

  • HR 499
    #16 Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act

    To decriminalize marijuana at the Federal level, to leave to the States a power to regulate marijuana that is similar to the power they have to regulate alcohol.

    5,824 Support | 420 Oppose

  • S 35
    #15 Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act

    To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition.

    308 Support | 6,558 Oppose

  • S 33
    #14 Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

    To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

    324 Support | 6,863 Oppose

  • HR 65
    #13 Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act

    Raising the age of legal handgun ownership to 21.

    514 Support | 7,193 Oppose

  • HR 21
    #12 NRA Members Gun Safety Act

    To provide for greater safety in the use of firearms.

    536 Support | 7,770 Oppose

  • HR 34
    #11 Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act

    To provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms.

    362 Support | 8,402 Oppose

  • HR 141
    #10 Gun Show Loophole Closing Act

    To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at gun shows.

    1,406 Support | 7,591 Oppose

  • HR 2682
    #9 Defund Obamacare Act

    To prohibit the funding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    9,365 Support | 307 Oppose

  • S 150
    #8 Assault Weapons Ban

    To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited.

    633 Support | 9,409 Oppose

  • HR 142
    #7 Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act

    To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition.

    617 Support | 9,508 Oppose

  • HR 117
    #6 Handgun Licensing and Registration Act

    To provide for the mandatory licensing and registration of handguns.

    553 Support | 9,619 Oppose

  • HR 133
    #5 Citizens Protection Act

    To repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and amendments to that Act.

    9,671 Support | 651 Oppose

  • HR 138
    #4 Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

    To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

    756 Support | 10,828 Oppose

  • S 744
    #3 Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act

    To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. This bill passed in the Senate on June 27, 2013 and is awaiting consideration by the House.

    1,385 Support | 10,212 Oppose

  • HJRes 15
    #2 Repealing the 22nd Amendment

    Proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

    151 Support | 12,984 Oppose

  • S 649
    #1 Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act

    To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.

    304 Support | 14,110 Oppose

To the IRS—Citizen, Documented or Undocumented—We’re All the Same

IRS Internal Revenue ServiceCNS NEWS – The question of whether to legalize illegal aliens and put them on a pathway to citizenship may be the most controversial legislative issue facing the U.S. Congress this year.

But, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), seventeen years have already passed since the Internal Revenue Service made its own “policy decision” to “’legalize’ illegal aliens.”

That policy, made those many years ago, not only determined that the IRS would treat illegal aliens the same as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, but also that the IRS would not hand over to federal immigration authorities information about employers who appeared to be hiring large numbers of illegal aliens and about illegal aliens who filed false documents with the IRS.

As a result of the IRS’s policy, by 2010, according to TIGTA, the service was paying out $4.2 billion in refundable “Additional Child Tax Credits” to illegal aliens. In 2011, according to TIGTA, the IRS would pay more than $46 million in tax refunds to what theoretically were 23,994 illegal aliens who all used the same address in Atlanta.

Read more at CNS News.