Conservative Controversies & Scandals

2016 Republican 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's campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the Presidential campaign that granted the company priority access to Trump and his inner circle in exchange for positive media coverage and a promise to run his rallies and speeches without commentary. Sinclair operates 173 television stations in 81 U.S. markets and reaches millions of American consumers every day, so the deal undoubtedly gave the Trump campaign tens of millions of dollars worth of non-critical free airtime.
  • 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 .
  • A man who worked on Donald Trump's campaign in Michigan was convicted of ten counts of felony election fraud for forging signatures on petition forms back in 2012. The staffer, Brandon Hall, was convicted on all ten counts against him for signing other people’s names in support of 2012 judicial candidate Chris Houtaling.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Donald J. Trump Foundation admitted to "self dealing," which is illegal under Federal law. The foundation informed the IRS that they had transferred "income or assets to a disqualified person.” A disqualified person could be Donald Trump himself, any member of his family, or a business that he owns.
  • 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.
  • The Federal Election Commission notified the Trump campaign that his campaign violated campaign finance rules by accepting donations that exceeded the legal limit and demanded the campaign refund any donations that came from unregistered organizations or surpassed legal donating limits.
  • 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 has been sued by students of his now defunct "University" who accuse him of running a fraudulent scheme to get as much money from them as possible. Trump University is accused of using strong arm tactics that encourage the elderly and uneducated to take out massive amounts of debt with the promise of future financial gains. Trump University was in fact never a accredited university at all, but in fact it was a company that purported to be selling Trump’s secret insights into how to make money in real estate. **Update** Donald Trump settled the case out of court and has agreed to pay $25 million to the plaintiffs.
  • 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.”