Ethic Case :
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Business interests create dilemma for Trump administration
Retrieved November 16th 2016:
https://www.ft.com/content/600073ea-ab8a-11e6-9cb3-bb8207902122 On November 3, the US agency charged with safeguarding workers? rights
ruled that the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas had violated federal law
by refusing to hold contract talks with a union representing housekeepers and
Five days later, the lodging?s co-owner ? Donald Trump ? was elected
president of the US, putting him in position to appoint a Republican majority
at the regulator ? the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ? that could
overturn the decision.
The possibility points to one of the central ethical dilemmas facing a Trump
administration. There has never been a president-elect with more potential
conflicts between his financial interests and his official duties. But with his
inauguration set for January 20, Mr Trump has yet to present a formal
proposal to insulate himself from criticism that he is putting aside the general
welfare in favour of his own.
During the campaign, Mr Trump suggested he might transfer his holdings into
a ?blind trust? ? in the manner of many of his predecessors ? managed by
his oldest children, Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric. But critics say the trust would
be neither blind ? because its assets are so well known ? nor independent.
They note the three Trump scions already have been named as members of
their father?s transition team.
?Just turning management over to the kids doesn?t solve the problem ? he
would still retain ownership,? said Richard Painter, a former White House
ethics lawyer in the administration of George W Bush. ?He hasn?t given us
any plan going forward that will remove those conflicts of interest.?
Norman Eisen, a former legal ethics adviser for President Barack Obama,
said ?the best thing? for Mr Trump would be to liquidate his business holdings
and invest the proceeds in a real blind trust run by an independent trustee.
But he adds that Mr Trump has no legal obligation to do so, nor any seeming
?We have never confronted a situation like this one before and it poses some
very serious challenges and risks,? Mr Eisen says. ?As the shock of the result
wears off, the president-elect and his team ? and all of us ? need to
address those risks.?
Mr Painter said he sees two big potential conflicts for Mr Trump. The first
involves his hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and the perception that his
borrowings could influence regulation in his administration. Complicating
matters further is the fact that one of Mr Trump?s biggest current lenders is
Deutsche Bank, which is now in talks with the US justice department involving its handling of mortgage-backed securities.
Another pitfall involves a section of the US Constitution known as the
?emoluments clause?. It essentially forbids a president from receiving
anything of value from ?any King, Prince or foreign state? without
congressional approval ? no small issue for a business executive with
holdings from Ireland and Scotland to Panama and the Philippines that could
benefit materially from policies in those places.
Other potential difficulties can be found closer to home. The Trump
Organization, for example, now operates a hotel in the government-owned
Old Post Office Building in Washington. As president, Mr Trump would
appoint the head of the federal General Services Administration, which
manages the property in the nation?s capital.
Mr Trump?s reputation as a man of the people could be put at risk by his
oversight of the NLRB. Because of squabbles in recent years between Mr
Obama and the Republican-controlled Senate, only three of the five seats on
the board have been filled, two by Democrats and one by a Republican.
Catherine Fisk, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said she
expects Mr Trump will be able to quickly win Senate approval for two new
members of the NLRB, giving Republicans control of the agency.
Although the NLRB is unlikely to revisit findings of fact, she said ?clever
lawyers? might be able to come up with a potential challenge to the NLRB?s
ruling requiring the Trump International Hotel to negotiate with the Culinary
Workers Union in Las Vegas. In the meantime, the Trump Organization has
appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals in Washington.
?Everyone expects that many of the decisions of the last eight years will be
reversed,? Ms Fisk said. ?It certainly raises the risk that the president is going
to govern not in the interest of the electorate, but in his own interest.?
Questions arising (discuss in Forum):
1- What ?ethical dilemmas? is President-Elect Trump facing?
2- Who else might be involved in these ?dilemmas? (ie: who are the
other key stakeholders?)?
3- What ?solutions? might you propose? Whose responsibility would it be
to implement these?
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