Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

7. Corruption

accomplices

It is seven days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election.

Remember the Teapot Dome Scandal? If you’re like me, it’s one of those dark times in American government that we heard about in history class but happened a long time ago and … and … “I’m sorry, Coach, but I didn’t read the assignment.”

For a refresher, this History.com article explains it as “an unprecedented level of greed and corruption,” featuring “ornery oil tycoons, poker-playing politicians, illegal liquor sales, a murder-suicide, a womanizing president and a bagful of bribery cash.”

Now that we’ve gotten an idea of how embarrassingly horrible Teapot Dome was, let’s move to this New York Times article from Sunday, “Trump’s Corruption: The Definitive List,” which states, “Compiling the list made us understand why some historians believe Trump’s administration is the most corrupt since at least Warren Harding’s, of 1920s Teapot Dome fame.”

There’s an additional reason this article screamed out to me – besides pointing out how horrendous is this White House. Several weeks ago, I made a note from something I read claiming real Republicans were considerably bothered by the party’s “culture of corruption” and Trump’s use of the office for personal gain.

Is that true? I would love to hear that substantial numbers of Republicans have finally found something distasteful about what’s emanating from the Oval Office. So, let’s take a brief look at what the Times article says.

However, there is much too much information, so I’ll just list the themed categories and a bit from each. You really need to read the article. The first seven categories are grouped under the heading, “Trump and Family.”

Foreigners are paying the Trumps

“Officials from foreign governments have realized they can curry favor with Trump by spending money at his properties.”

Americans are paying the Trumps

“American officials and business leaders have also spent money at Trump properties, sometimes in an apparent effort to please the president.”

Trump Inc. is expanding overseas

A Trump-related project in Indonesia received a $500 million loan from a company owned by the Chinese government. The president responded by lifting sanctions on another business with close ties to the Chinese government.

Kushner Inc. is wooing foreign investment

Jared Kushner has exhibited to his father-in-law that he, too, is adept at trading political favors for sizeable investments from other governments.

The presidency has become a branding opportunity

His Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, has doubled its membership rates.

Taxpayers are subsidizing the Trumps

While visiting or staying at one of his properties almost one of every three days, Trump is directing taxpayer money to his own business.

Trump Inc. gets special protection

The president personally axed a plan to move an FBI office and instead ordered building a new facility at the site, which would prevent a competitor hotel from challenging his for business.

The next six categories are under the heading, “Trump’s Cabinet, Aides and Allies.”

Friendly businesses also get special treatment

“More than 164 former lobbyists work in the administration, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including several who regulate the industries that once paid their salaries.”

Family, friends and donors get perks

“The president and his aides have repeatedly shown they are willing to use the government’s prestige and power to help their friends and relatives make money.”

Cabinet officials make unethical stock trades

Some Trump officials appear to have made policy decisions benefiting the companies in which they owned stock.

Trump’s orbit receives cash

“Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, reportedly used his position to offer private briefings to a Russian oligarch to whom he owed millions of dollars.”

Cabinet officials take junkets

You might question the integrity of Trump’s Cabinet choices, but you’ve got to admit they love to travel on someone else’s dime.

Trump’s team enjoys interior decorating

Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, spent $139,000 in taxpayer money on new doors for his office, for example.

The final, and most important, section is “Where is Congress?”

It has shirked its constitutional duty

“The biggest scandal of all, however, is not even the corruption of the Trump administration. It’s the inaction of Congress. … (T)he Republican leaders … have enabled the most corrupt administration of our lifetimes.”

And this is where a story about a corrupt president finds a role in an election where he’s not running.

To address the corruption, we need to change the leadership in Congress. We do that by electing as many Democrats as we can and insist they earn their keep.

Again, read the entire article for more details.

Early voting is ongoing in many places. Final voting takes place nationwide next Tuesday.

Vote.

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