President-elect Trump Must Sever Ties With His Family Business Now

Donald Trump's refusal to draw lines between his businesses and the presidency continues to pose new appearances of conflicts of interest. And the man doesn't take the oath of office until next month.So far the president-elect has refused to release his tax returns and reneged on a promise to tell the world how he would prevent his vast private holdings from appearing to influence his presidency. Now his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., are scrambling to distance themselves from Opening Day Foundation, a newly formed Dallas-based charity after questions over whether the nonprofit is peddling access to their father during inauguration activities.There is a certain irony to this latest kerfuffle. As a candidate, Trump assailed Hillary Clinton for the appearance of pay-to-play ties between contributions to the Clinton Foundation and access to the former secretary of state. How is the Opening Day Foundation much different? Created by Trump supporters Tommy Hicks Jr., the eldest son of Dallas billionaire Tom Hicks, and Dallas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach, the conservation charity, while legal, had the troubling signs of a quid pro quo. In exchange for donations to the charity, donors who give $1 million would have a private reception with the new president and a hunting or fishing trip with Eric or Donald Jr. In response to public backlash, Trump's sons have moved to excise their names from the charity registration documents. Separately, Eric Trump has pledged to stop soliciting contributions for his own unrelated charitable foundation, which supports causes like the fight against childhood cancer, to avoid pay-to-play allegations.Still, Trump family business and the presidency remain a potentially toxic brew. Ivanka Trump was forced to stop marketing the 18-karat diamond piece she wore during an appearance on 60 Minutes to ease concerns that she was cashing in on her father's pending presidency. And it remains disturbingly unclear why Trump family members attended the president-elect's first meeting with a foreign head of state and a recent meeting with US technology executives in his office. The motivations behind the decisions Trump makes as president will remain suspect - and subject to endless rumor and speculation - until he liquidates his foreign and domestic holdings. Like Democratic and Republican presidents before him, he needs to put stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets into blind trusts run by independent managers to minimize conflicts of interest. Otherwise, suspicion will undermine every decision Trump makes as president, every action his administration pursues. Did he do what he did for the good of the country? Or for the good of the Trump family coffers? The Office of the President shouldn't be so tarnished. Trump owes the American people more than a vague promise that he'll do the right thing. He needs to show us that he's doing the right thing. Now. Trump's many potential conflictsForeign Interests: Holdings around the globe could give the appearance of compromising his decisions and open him up to accusations that he has violated the Constitution's emoluments clause, which prohibits government officials from taking payments or gifts from a foreign government or entity.Trump International Hotel: The Trump Organization's contract with the General Services Administration prohibits any elected federal government official from being part of the lease or deriving any benefit from it. Trump could be in breach of the lease agreement unless he fully divests himself of all financial interests in the hotel.Deutsche Bank: The bank is a major lender to Trump's businesses and is in negotiations with the Justice Department to settle claims over its handling of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis. National Labor Relations Board: The board has ruled against the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, which Mr. Trump co-owns, for refusing to negotiate with a new culinary workers union.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us