Conservative Controversies & Scandals

2016 Republican Abuse of Power Scandals

  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that Congress rewrite ethics laws and "think up a whole new approach" to them to protect Donald Trump from running afoul of them once he becomes President. Gingrich told an interviewer that "traditional rules don't work" because "we've never seen this kind of wealth in the White House."
  • Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump along with two other investors created a charity called Opening Day Foundation that is selling access to Donald Trump on and around inauguration day. The "charity" is accepting donations in exchange for a private reception with Donald Trump and potentially a private hunting event with the new President if the price is right.
  • The Kuwaiti government cancelled a major gala they planned to hold at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. after their ambassador received pressure from the Trump Organization to hold it at Trump's new hotel in the old Post Office building.
  • Donald Trump used campaign money to reimburse his personal businesses to the tune of $12.5 million dollars during the 2016 campaign. Trump's use of his businesses for campaign events is technically legal, but has been described by multiple watchdog groups as the first time a candidate has "ever run so much of a campaign's spending through his own businesses." Trump
  • Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter, sat in on a private meeting between the President-elect and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while her husband sat in the background. Her participation can be seen as a conflict of interest for Donald Trump because Ivanka and her brother will be running his businesses while he is President. **Update** The New York Times reported that Ivanka is in the process of finalizing a business deal with a Japanese clothing manufacturer Sanei International whose largest shareholder is the state owned Development Bank of Japan .
  • Donald Trump encouraged Nigel Farage, a leading politician in Great Britain, to use his position of authority to pressure the British government to cancel planned wind farm projects that would be built near his golf course in Scotland. Trump reportedly told Nigel that Britain has " got to do something about these windmills. Let’s put them offshore, why spoil the beautiful countryside?”
  • Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn gave classified information to NATO allies without approval from his superiors during his tenure at the Defense Intelligence Agency. His actions prompted his superiors to formally reprimand him.
  • Donald Trump praised one of his business partners in Turkey during a call with the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump used the talk with Erdogan to talk about his luxury hotel in Turkey and to pass along praise from the hotels majority owners.
  • A long stalled Trump Tower project in Buenos Aires was given new life three days after Donald Trump's first phone call with Argentinean President Mauricio Macri following his election. Trump has been accused of bringing up the project in his call with President Macri, which both parties denied, but the timing of the announcement that the project is back on raises questions as to whether the two leaders did discuss restarting the project.
  • Donald Trump's incoming chief political adviser earned a salary from nonprofit charity he ran while also running Breitbart.com. Government Accountability Institute, the nonprofit in question, claimed to be an independent, nonpartisan institute in their tax filing with the IRS, but the organization has been closely linked with right wing organizations that have been highly critical of the Obama Administration and then Secretary Clinton's campaign.
  • Donald Trump said that he doesn't have to cut any ties with his business empire because he claims the President "can't have a conflict of interest." His stance is reminiscent of former President Nixon's claim that "when the president does it, that means it is not illegal." The Constitutions Emoluments Clause prohibits any Federal official from accepting any payments from foreign governments, but only Congress can investigate and force the President to abide by it.
  • Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter, participated in a phone call between Donald Trump and Argentine President Mauricio Macri shortly after his electoral victory. Her participation in the conversation raise conflict of interest questions considering Trump has multiple business ventures in Argentina and she will be running her fathers business empire while he is President.
  • Business developers representing Trump Towers Pune, a luxury apartment complex that is currently being constructed in western India, met privately with Donald Trump just days after he was elected to be the 45th President. They met with Trump and other future administration officials at Trump Tower in New York City and raises a multitude of legal and ethical questions about how the future President will be able to separate the duties of the Presidency with his personal business dealings.
  • Incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn received classified briefings on both domestic and international affairs while at the same time being the CEO of a lobbying firm that represented foreign clients.
  • Donald Trump offered gifts to Megyn Kelly during the Presidential primary season in an attempt to get positive coverage from her on Fox News. Kelly accused Trump of offering her free nights at his hotels and other unspecified gifts and also accused Trump of doing the same to many other unnamed journalists. She said that "Trump tried to work the refs and some of the refs responded.”
  • Report showed that Donald Trump spent nearly $300,000 of small donor's campaign contributions on 'books'. The books were purchased from Random House Publishing, the same publisher that published Trump's 'Art of the Deal' book, the same book that Trump is selling on his donor website for a minimum donation of $184. Trump was also falsely advertising the book on his site to be 'out of print', even though Barnes and Noble was selling copies for $22.35. Report suggested Trump used that money to buy his own books, something he had been caught doing in past already.
  • In the state of Indiana, Kosciusko County Sheriff C. Aaron Rovenstine has been indicted by a grand jury on 10 separate criminal counts. The outspoken and lifelong Republican sheriff has been indicted on five official misconduct charges, three bribery charges, one intimidation charge and one assisting a criminal charge, ranging from 2011 to 2015. If convicted, Rovenstine could face anywhere from 8.5 years to 37 years behind bars.