Panel dissects Trump’s ethics

Illustration by Trevor Downs

Conflicts of interest are a human reality that cannot be escaped, says Derek Monson

If we legally require a presidential candidate to release their tax returns, the ability to see whether they would freely offer it is lost, according to Derek Monson, director of public policy at the Sutherland Institute.

The event, “Ethics in the Age of Trump: Why Conflicts of Interest, Regulation, and Precedent Matter,” was organized by the Center for The Study of Ethics and held March 15 in the Fulton Library lecture hall.

The panel consisted of three legal experts: Monson, Charles A. Cannon, author of “Why Does Presidential Conflict Matter”;  and Loren Washburn, founder of Washburn Law Group and attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cannon expressed concern over the lack of accountability for high-ranking government officials.

“We need a system that provides the maximum degree of transparency and visibility of the financial relationships that our leaders and government officials are engaged in,” Canon said. “In the end, I believe confidence and trust are essential to our political system.”

The panel was created in response to the controversy surrounding President Trump’s potential financial obligations to foreign banks and his business deals abroad. If true, it might expose critical conflicts of interest for his position as POTUS.

Trump’s 2005 tax return was acquired by journalist David Cay Johnston, and aired on MSNBC by Rachel Maddow a day before the March 14 panel.

“The release of two pages of a tax return  is an interesting event, but it doesn’t reveal the deeper financial interests, the investments, the financial relationships, the debts and things that are reflected in a full disclosure,” said Cannon. “All attempts to legislate and regulate disclosure and transparency have been overturned in successive Supreme Court decisions.”

Monson expressed his support for transparency, but made it clear that he did not believe that presidential candidates should be forced to reveal their tax returns.

“[The decision to release a tax return] shows a lot about the integrity of the presidential candidate, and if you mandate it you lose that opportunity as voters,” he said.

Andrew Langford, a political science graduate who attended the event, expressed his concern s about President Trump’s ethical standards.

“I feel [Trump] is not ethical by the way he behaves, the way he interacts with others. I just don’t feel comfortable with him as president,” he said.

Katelyn Hickman, a junior philosophy and peace and justice major, felt that the panel should have focused more on ways to deal with conflicts of interest.

“We should be trying to find a way to deal with conflicts in a non-violent way, or in a way that’s accepting and that promotes equality,” she said.

While Cannon focused his remarks primarily on what he felt should be the ethical standard of transparency, Washburn concentrated on the lack of legal mandates to enforce it.

“Donald Trump has no legal obligation whatsoever to release his tax returns,” said Washburn.

AP Style guide: Use semicolons to separate elements of a series when the items in the series contain material that also must be set off by commas. In this situation we do need it before the and, and the semicolon goes outside of the quotations.

I don’t think this insert is necessary.

I changed this because “for” seems to imply that that Langford is concerned on behalf of Trump’s ethical standards, instead of being concerned in regards to Trump’s ethical concerns, which is what I think  you want to say.

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