Thursday, December 1, 2016

Donald Trump, conflicts of interest and full disclosure

One of the prominent models of campaign finance law is the no limits-full disclosure model.  The concept is that money will always find a way into the system, so rather than try to limit contributions, which would be futile, we should simply try to make the system as transparent as possible so that voters are as aware as possible of who is giving money to whom.  That way, if voters believe contributors to be relevant, they can factor that into their decisions.  Do you care if Martin Shkreli contributed money to Senator Putzenslyme?  Then don't vote for him.  It doesn't even matter whether contributors are bribing candidates or just giving money to candidates who naturally support their positions.  The system works the same way.  Disclosure sends signals, and those signals are valuable.

Donald Trump never released his tax returns, and never will, but we know who his main constituent is.  He has business holdings that will be managed by his children, on a day to day basis, and he will continue to know what they are, while his children give him political advice and receive, in all likelihood, private information valuable to the business.  Foreign leaders will conduct business with his businesses in order to secure political favors.

All of this was known in advance.  Donald Trump is behaving exactly as advertised.  So, what's the problem here?  He won the election (there's no such thing as the popular vote, so quit whining about it), and now he gets to do what he was elected to do.  From a small-d democratic perspective, that's full disclosure.

Your contrarian take for the day.

He's still a fucking asshole, though.


  1. Makes one wonder if the full-disclosure model works.

    1. My favorite Mencken quote: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard.