Doesn’t Inspire Confidence: Dark Money Kingpin to Advise Trump Businesses on Ethics

Doesn’t Inspire Confidence: Dark Money Kingpin to Advise Trump Businesses on Ethics

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Jan. 25, 2017

It wouldn’t matter if the Trump Organization hired Archbishop Desmond Tutu or U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders to be its ethics adviser. President Donald Trump’s core conflicts of interest come from his ownership of his business empire. He knows what he owns and he knows how policy choices – from consumer protection to tax policy – will affect his businesses. The ongoing operation of the businesses is a matter of tertiary importance.

That said, the choice of Bobby Burchfield to be ethics adviser for Trump’s businesses is peculiar, his accomplishments notwithstanding. Burchfield is chair of the nation’s largest dark money organization, Crossroads GPS, and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court for an expanded role of big money in politics. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his ability to police ethical standards at the Trump Organization.

Burchfield will get an early test. Bloomberg reports that a Trump Hotels executive said the company would like to triple the number of hotels it has in the United States. Such an expansion plan would constitute an effort to cash in on the presidency, pure and simple. According to Trump’s voluntary ethics plans, new domestic deals are supposed to be subject a “vigorous vetting process.” This one shouldn’t require much vigor. To this idea, Burchfield should unconditionally say no.

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