POLITICO Interviews Matthew Sanderson on Trump Appointing an Ethics Adviser
Donald Trump promises that he and his adults sons won’t talk business or policy while he runs the country and they run his company, but the country will have to take his word on it. Trump says his company is hiring an ethics officer to review any new deals for conflicts of interest, but the ethics officer will report to business executives, not the public.
But in addition to the credibility of the person who’s chosen, it will be important to establish who appoints and oversees the ethics adviser, according to Matthew T. Sanderson, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who handles political law and ethics. An ethics adviser who can be directed or removed by business executives wouldn’t be a truly independent check.
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Trump also needs to clarify how the Trump Organization would account for identifying profits from foreign governments, Sanderson said.
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Trump’s lawyer Dillon argued that selling Trump’s holdings wasn’t realistic because he would still have a financial interest in the form of royalties he received from the Trump brand (and selling the company without the brand would destroy its value). But Trump could have committed to receive only a fixed income from his holdings for the rest of his life, Sanderson said.
“That would have left his business empire intact while still assuring the American people that he will not personally profit from his administration,” said Sanderson, who previously advised Rand Paul and Rick Perry. “There is no doubt that Mr. Trump could have done much more here to address his conflicts of interest.”
Mr. Sanderson is also a senior member of Caplin & Drysdale’s Political Law Group.
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Excerpt taken from the article “Trump Asks Public for Blind Trust,” by Isaac Arnsdorf for POLITICO.