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An intrepid American Congressman has called forth an historic rule to help lawmakers assess the financial network in which our president is enmeshed. It turns out, Congress can require a president to share his tax returns with them. And Representative Bill Pascrell is trying to make that happen, using a law signed by Republican President Calvin Coolidge: the Revenue Act of 1924.
Despite having run on claims of being a “successful businessman” as his major alleged qualification to lead the United States executive branch of government, the current president never has been transparent about his own business interests. What has he revealed about his businesses really? He paints his name on properties and products, brags about repeated exploitation of bankruptcy laws to salvage his own misjudgments and errors on the backs of his contractors and creditors, and declares himself ‘smart’ for avoiding paying federal taxes. Nobody familiar with this man has ever claimed he has integrity. Some even warned early on that the country could never afford to be run like one of his businesses.
Why has this president repeatedly refused to release his tax returns? Personally, I will never understand how more than sixty-two million of my fellow citizens decided they did not need to know more about his business and finance connections before casting their vote for him. But they did, and here we are. And despite his team’s elated declarations that he is ‘exempt’ from conflict of interest investigations, we the people really do have a right and a need to know to whom this man has engaged himself financially. The Emoluments clause of the Constitution still applies. As do ethics.
Money seems to be one of this family’s highest values. His current wife sued several sources for alleged slander, seeking $150 million in one suit due to potential damage to her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world,” according to the complaint. Hardly a classy perception of her role as American first lady. Inappropriate public defense of his daughter’s product lines has embroiled him and a top advisor in ethics investigations. This family is all about their business. But they will not reveal with whom they are in business, nor to whom they are indebted. And our president will not disentangle himself financially, as he has been advised repeatedly to do.
Now, we have a glimmer of hope. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey) sits on the House Ways & Means Committee and has requested that Committee chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas) use a 1924 rule to obtain ten years of the president’s tax returns for the committee’s review. According to a 02/07/17 Washington Post editorial by George Yin, former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation:
“Such a disclosure must be in the public’s interest, and today’s understandable concerns about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest would seem clearly to justify a congressional effort to obtain, investigate and possibly disclose to the public his tax information.”
Information disclosed to the Ways & Means Committee if this effort is successful may or may not subsequently become available to the entire House and the public. For the moment, access and evaluation by the committee would be an important first step.
Contact Representative Pascrell and thank him for his efforts.
Contact the House Ways & Means Committee at (202) 225-3625 to request their support for this inquiry.
***Contact your own House Representative and ask them to support this inquiry.***
Keep the faith. Keep it up.