Ben G.

The Conflicts of Interest Facing Donald Trump

As the dust settles, more issues are revealed.

President-Elect Trump,

Congratulations on your recent victory in the Electoral College, along with being named TIME’s Person of the Year. My name is Ben Gonzalez-Maldonado. I'm a Mexican immigrant, but don’t worry, I’m legal. Mr. Trump, your controversial views on Mexico, my homeland, among other topics, worried me throughout this election, and upon hearing of your reluctance to separate yourself from your business during your presidency, my concern only grew. However, as important as the issue of immigration is to me, that is another letter for another day.

President-elect, this was the first election that I actually understood. My first glimpse of democracy, that was supposed to strengthen my faith in it, and serve as an example for future elections. Yet after this process, I have been disappointed, and confused. The vicious insults and behavior throughout the debates, the comments made by candidates throughout their campaign; all of it was shocking to me. Now, even after the election, we still face controversy, specifically your conflicts of interest, and reluctance to sell your many businesses.

Mr. Trump, throughout the history of the United States, most presidents have placed their assets into a blind trust to avoid the issues you currently face. Regardless of whether or not you are being honest about your separation from your businesses, you haven't necessarily built up a sufficient amount of trust that a whole nation will accept your current actions. Therefore, the only possible solution for you at this point, is to divest or to actually separate yourself from your business. And no, handing a business over to your own children doesn't count as cutting off all ties from your business, so that's not an option.

If you still don’t see why this is a big deal, let me elaborate. The Trump Corporation is a vast business empire with multiple dealings, and is also in debt with Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, and the bank is currently in the middle of negotiating a settlement with the Justice Department, and currently people are skeptical if the bank will be able to pay the settlement. The Justice Department, as you know, is run by the Attorney General, a position that you get to give to someone. Your choice for Attorney General would then run that department, and the fate of the bank would be in your hands, the same hands that owe the bank millions.

Still, that’s only a single potential conflict. As you have repeatedly stated, you claim to be under audit by the IRS, a government agency whose head gets to be appointed by the president. While the current commissioner still has about a year left in his term, if he resigns or is impeached as many Republicans have been trying to do, you get to choose who leads the department currently investigating you. Do you see how that can be somewhat troubling?

Yet another conflict, is the fact that you could essentially, as multiple sources have stated, be the landlord and tenant of the Trump Hotel in Washington. You see, your contract with the General Services Admission, the people you lease the hotel from, states that a government official can’t benefit from the lease, yet if you appoint a new head of the GSA, and that head coincidentally chooses not to end your lease or call you out on the contract violation, you can continue to own the hotel, while controlling the GSA, your landlord. All of these, are only a few examples of the many conflicts you face.

Now, I’m aware that you have no motive to sell or divest whatsoever, other than to maybe get people off your back, but if the leader of a nation becomes selfish, the nation becomes corrupt. Again, I come from Mexico, a developing country with a plethora of corrupt officials. I have lived in it, and heard of the atrocities committed by the government. Guards can be bribed by cartel members. When the army was deployed by Ex-President Calderon, instead of combating organized crime, the public was abused by the army, through unwarranted arrests, beatings, and even rape. I understand that you benefit from keeping your businesses, but if you wish to truly make this nation great, even the slightest amount of corruption can grow to become widespread and deeply rooted.

Again, these are only a handful of the conflicts of interest that you are facing, all serious issues that can easily be solved if you only divest your holdings. Mr. Trump, I urge you to view this, not as a personal issue, but as a national one. If you are to be President, you have to be willing to set your own life aside in order to improve on the nation you claimed you would make great again. Already you are receiving heat for this, losing the trust and support of many. In order to lead the nation effectively, you require the trust of the people. Mr. Trump, I do not trust you, and millions don’t either. Whether or not you change that, is up to you.

Good luck with the presidency,

Ben Gonzalez-Maldonado