See, this is better; now that you’ve put forward an actual position we actually have something to discuss.
[quote=“hmtksteve, post:380, topic:125”]Equivalent? No.
One is clearly a private enterprise designed around personal enrichment while the other is a charity. However, even charities have secondary non-monetary benefits to those who create them.
Example: look at how Bill Gates was viewed before and after he created his charitable foundation. Compare that to his contemporary (and competitor) Steve Jobs.[/quote]It’s simply not possible for a politician’s incentives to be completely aligned with the greater interests of the public they serve; for one thing, they already have a major vested interest in getting elected. The point of the laws, rules and norms around the issue is to manage and mitigate these issues; at a fundamental level, it’s a mechanism design problem.
[quote=“hmtksteve, post:380, topic:125”]If you are looking to make changes in the world you generally need money to make effective and lasting changes. A charity is a great way to do that as it allows you to accept tax deductible donations from others. Donations that can then be used to effect the changes that those who run the charity want to see happen.
Do you honestly believe that foreigners who donated money to the Clinton Foundation did so expecting no favors or influence in return? Notice, I am not saying they received any influence, do you think they expected to gain influence or special treatment in governmental affairs once Clinton was in a position to give them?[/quote]I think that some of them hoped to get access, and I think they hoped for it because donating money in order to have a greater chance to get access is a core part of how Washington operates.
Is this problematic? Definitely. However, pointing at foreigners donating to the Clinton Foundation (and not donating as much now that she has lost the election) as though this was itself the problem, rather than being symptomatic of the system as a whole, isn’t going to achieve anything.
If you actually want to get somewhere with that issue you really need to think of it in the terms I mentioned earlier, as a fundamental problem of mechanism design in regards to how government operates.
[quote=“hmtksteve, post:380, topic:125”]Edit: I also suggest reading the DOJ letter written about President Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize and why the AG believed it did not run afoul of the Emoluments Clause or the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.
Look, Trump is clearly a certifiable whack job. When he talks it sounds like he loses coherency even before he finishes his current sentence. His business dealings and ownership stakes are a huge conflict of interest just waiting to happen. Couple that with his thin skin and we have a serious recipe for disaster. However, do his business interests break the law or just the spirit of the law?[/quote]There is definitely an argument to be made for illegality, but I can’t say whether it would hold up; my guess is that it wouldn’t. This would obviously change if anyone were to get evidence of quid pro quo corruption, which is what the Supreme Court seems to think is required.
However, whether or not it’s illegal isn’t even the real question here. Whether he intended it or not, the same gears that turn under the hood in order for people to get access to Washington politicians will turn for Trump. The difference here is that, whereas for the average US politician the way you ingratiate yourselves to them is large donations to the Super PACs and charitable causes they have ties to, for Donald Trump there is the much more obvious and direct (and less transparent) option of the Trump Organization. Granted, there’s additional logistics involved in arranging a “donation” of sorts via such business dealings, but the fact that the benefits go directly to Trump is a huge plus for such an action.
So, all in all, it’s a serious violation of previously established norms, and Donald Trump stands to be significantly enriched as a result, whether he intended it or not.