Trump’s gold-plated son-in-law and other potential conflicts of interest in the White House

Trump’s gold-plated son-in-law and other potential conflicts of interest in the White House

On 20 January US President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office, bringing with him his son-in-law as his senior adviser and a cabinet full of multi-millionaires and billionaires with little political experience and problematic business relationships.

When recently about potential conflicts of interest in his cabinet picks, Trump responded: “I want to bring the greatest people into government… We don’t make good deals anymore.”

By “good deals” is he referring to ExxonMobil that would harm its oil deals with Russia; and evicting thousands of homeowners; or while working on bills that could benefit the company’s value?

Good deals must also be ethical deals. If they are tainted with corruption, cronyism or conflicts of interest, they will benefit the few at the expense of the people. Despite Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp”, he must be aware that nepotism and cronyism will only add to the muck.

Trump’s appointments are rife with potential conflicts of interest. Take Rex Tillerson – Secretary of State appointee – who was with ExxonMobil for 41 years and, as CEO, medal from President Vladimir Putin after signing deals with state-owned Rosneft. Or Betsy DeVos – a billionaire that Trump appointed Secretary of Education despite her lack of experience with public schools and her lobbying efforts to divert public school funds “”.

Check out the video below for more potential conflicts of interests in Trump’s cabinet picks.

Keeping it in the family

Trump selected his son-in-law Jared Kushner as senior adviser – an appointment that, unlike cabinet positions, requires no Senate approval. This is not unprecedented and previous presidents have appointed in-laws and family members to office. However, according to our definition of nepotism, this example is fraught with potential conflicts that warrant public scrutiny.

Leaders in countries perceived as highly corrupt do the same thing – from Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, who selected his wife as Vice President (Nicaragua comes in at 130 out of 168 countries in our Corruption Perceptions Index 2015), to Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos appointing his daughter Isabel dos Santos – considered Africa’s richest woman with a net worth of US$3 billion – to head the state-owned oil company (Angola ranks 163 out of 168 in our index). Or Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang appointing his son Teodorín Obiang as Vice President. The latter currently faces trial in France, accused of laundering and embezzling millions of dollars from his nation’s state funds. 

Nepotism robs qualified citizens of opportunity. It’s a tactic used by corrupt politicians to enrich their families and to consolidate power. It’s dangerous and it’s unjust.

Kushner’s attorney has stated they are confident that will not apply to this particular appointment. Yet he and his wife – Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump – remain closely connected to their families’ billion-dollar businesses – and to the new administration in the White House.

First steps to come clean

Trump says the US doesn’t make good deals anymore, so he wants a cabinet that does. The question is, in whose interest? 

If Trump and his cabinet are serious about a corruption-free administration and eliminating conflicts of interest, they should:

The Senate should only approve candidates whose assets will not influence their decisions at the expense of the public interest. Successful appointees must be qualified for the job and have an ethics agreement with the Office of Government Ethics.

 

Image: Creative Commons, Flickr / gageskidmore

For any press enquiries please contact [email protected]

Solicitude

Support Transparency International

La Justicia española debe investigar el lavado de imagen de Azerbaiyán en Europa

Tres políticos españoles —Pedro Agramunt, Agustín Conde Bajén y Jordi Xuclá— se encuentran entre los delegados ante la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa (APCE) sobre los que pesan sospechas de haberse beneficiado con la maniobra del “Laundromat”.

International Anti-Corruption Day 2018: The power of people’s pressure

Across the world, Transparency International chapters work hard to help the public become involved and engaged in the fight against corruption.

Clean up Spain – Justice for Azerbaijan’s reputation laundering in Europe

In Azerbaijan, critical voices are routinely suppressed. Meanwhile in Europe, politicians suspected of helping whitewash Azerbaijan’s record on human rights enjoy impunity. Join our campaign to urge authorities in Spain to investigate.

Everything you need to know about the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (#18IACC)

The #18IACC will take place from 22-24 October in Copenhagen, Denmark under the theme Together for Development, Peace and Security: Now is the Time to Act. Get the latest info and updates here!

Risky business: Europe’s golden visa programmes

Are EU Member States accepting too much risk in their investor migration schemes?

Future Against Corruption Award 2018

TI is calling on young people across the globe to join the anti-corruption movement. People between the age of 18 and 35 are invited to submit a short video clip presenting their idea on new ways to fight corruption. Three finalists will be invited to Berlin during the International Anti-Corruption Day festivities to be awarded with the Future Against Corruption Award.

The Azerbaijani Laundromat one year on: has justice been served?

In September last year, a massive leak of bank records from 2012 to 2014 showed that the ruling elite of Azerbaijan ran a $3 billion slush fund and an international money laundering scheme. One year on, has enough been done to hold those involved to account?

Why rather

Follow us on Why rather