Action Alerts · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Tell Congress to Tell Trump to Fully Comply With The Emoluments Clause

This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.

Tell your House Rep that you want Trump to comply with the Constitution by fully and properly tracking the payments that his businesses receive from foreign governments.

 

A previous OTYCD post noted how Trump was in violation of the Constitution the day he took office, because of the Emoluments clause, which states that the president cannot receive gifts or payments from foreign governments. Having hotels and resorts all over the world–Washington D.C. included–with his name on them complicates the matter significantly.

 

In order to have a hope of complying, Trump has to track all the payments his many and varied business entities receive. Initially, his organization promised that it would donate all the profits it earned from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.

 

Well, on May 24, the Trump organization said it was not going to do the full due diligence required to be in compliance with the Emoluments clause, evidently because it’s just too damn hard. In an eight-page pamphlet it sent to the House Oversight Committee, it stated:

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

 

Elijah Cummings, minority leader of the house committee, shot back with deserved anger, saying the pamphlet “raised grave concerns about the president’s refusal to comply with the Constitution.”

 

We at OTYCD are asking you to back Cummings up by calling your house reps and demanding that the Trump organization do everything it can to get right with the Constitution, even if it’s wildly inconvenient. The sanctity of the Constitution is more important than the “guest experience” at Trump’s properties.

 

If your house rep IS Elijah Cummings, call him to thank him for doing the right thing.

 

Otherwise, riff off of this sample script:

“Dear House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I am calling to ask you to demand that the Trump organization do everything it can to prove that its business entities are in compliance with the Emoluments clause of the Constitution. In late May, the organization said it would not do the work involved in confirming that its entities were respecting the Constitution because doing so might affect the quality of the “guest experience” at Trump hotels and resorts. Well, maybe Trump should have thought that through before he ran for president. The Constitution is priceless. The guest experience at Trump properties is not. If his guests have to suffer a little to ensure that the Constitution receives due respect, that’s a small price to pay, and Trump can eat it.”

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read about the Trump organization’s refusal to fully comply with the standards required by the Constitution:

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/527997/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/05/24/trump-shows-he-wasnt-serious-about-shunning-emoluments/?utm_term=.b22e01bd7440

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-failing-track-foreign-cash-his-hotels-n764061

 

 

Read the eight-page pamphlet that team Trump prepared for the House Oversight Committee:

https://democrats-oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/documents/Trump%20Org%20Pamphlet%20on%20Foreign%20Profits.pdf

 

 

Read Elijah Cummings’s rejoinder:

https://democrats-oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/documents/2017-05-24.EEC%20to%20Trump%20Organization.pdf

Call Your State Legislators · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your State Legislators to Pass a Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Their Tax Returns Or Else

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

Have a look at this bill that Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett proposed that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns, and ask your own state legislators to pass a similar bill. 

When the feds are asleep at the wheel, we citizens have to turn to state and local government to step in and steer as best they can. Trump promised to release his tax returns when he was a presidential candidate, but has consistently refused to honor his pledge. Enter Massachusetts state senator Mike Barrett, who’s doing his best to make sure no one else can pull the same move without consequences.

In January he proposed Bill S.365, titled An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections. If passed, it would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns if they want to appear on the state’s ballot. Candidates who fail to comply lose the right to appear on the ballot; they could only compete as a write-in.

Brendan Berger, who handles communications for Barrett, says the state senator consulted constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, on the bill, and reports that Tribe believes it will pass muster.

Could your state pass something similar?

First, check and make sure your state legislators aren’t already on the case. A handful of states, all heavily Democratic, are pursuing similar measures.

If your state legislators aren’t mulling a bill like this one yet, call or email them and ask them to consider it.

To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.

Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official. It might be best to start with your state senator, seeing as Barrett is a state senator.

Sample email: Dear State Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I live in (town, zip code). I am emailing to ask if you would consider introducing a bill that would require all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release five years’ worth of tax returns in order to appear on our state’s ballot. Having a law like this in place would prevent future candidates from refusing to release their returns, as Trump has. I have (attached/included a link) to a Massachusetts bill now under consideration that is designed to address this issue. Thanks for considering my request. Sincerely, (Firstname Lastname).

 

Read the text of Massachusetts State Senator Mike Barrett’s bill:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S365/Senate/Bill/Text

 

Read Barrett’s statement about his bill, S.365, which explains it in plainer language:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Mass–law-can-compel-presidential-candidates-to-release-their-tax-returns—So-let-s-do-it—The-Barrett-Report–December–2016-.html?soid=1110058483636&aid=dXsAzV6_NRA

 

Read stories from Massachusetts newspapers on Barrett’s bill:

https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/12/15/this-massachusetts-bill-could-block-donald-trump-from-the-ballot-in-2020

http://lexington.wickedlocal.com/news/20161214/senator-mike-barret-d-lexington-wants-presidential-candidates-tax-returns-to-run-for-office-in-massachusetts

 

This Politico article contains references to efforts in Illinois and New Mexico to pass state bills that are similar to that of Barrett’s (scroll down a good bit):

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/state-legislators-trump-trolling-234919

 

Special thanks to Brendan Berger for answering OTYCD‘s questions about Mike Barrett’s bill via DM on Twitter. Please follow him: @brendanberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Ethics · House Bills, Federal · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Senate Bills, Federal · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Call Your Members of Congress to Support the Presidential Conflicts of Interests Act

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

 

Call your members of Congress to support the Presidential Conflicts of Interests Act of 2017.

 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced it in the senate as S.65; Massachusetts Fifth District representative Katherine Clark introduced it in the house as H.R. 371.

 

If passed, it would reinforce the Emoluments clause of the Constitution by stating that the president and vice president must divest themselves of any assets that could pose a conflict of interest, and place them in a blind trust.

 

The law would also apply to those officials’ spouses and dependent children, but not their grown children or their spouses. It would also impose the same disclosure requirements on the president that are required of members of Congress.

 

In short, it would force Trump to do something that the last several presidents have done voluntarily, because it’s common sense.

 

 

Here is the congress.gov link to S.65, A bill to address financial conflicts of interest of the President and Vice President:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/65

 

 

Here is the congress.gov link to H.R. 371, which has pretty much the same title as the senate version:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/371

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

See this New York Times op-ed from Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007, on Trump’s stated plans for complying with the Constitution:

 

See this (not very hopeful) Washington Post article about Warren and Clark’s legislative efforts:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/01/09/democrats-introduce-conflicts-of-interest-act-but-are-unlikely-to-get-a-vote/?utm_term=.e4e1d52a6952

 

 

Here is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s press release on the bill. It names all its co-sponsors in the senate and the house. Do you see your members of Congress listed? If so, call and thank them for supporting these bills.

http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1342

 

 

Escape Your Bubble · Ethics · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Vote with your Dollars

Rebuke Trump and Help the FBI By Donating to Its Charities

Rebuke Trump and show support for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) by donating to charities that help FBI families.

 

If you believe Donald Trump’s tweets, the FBI is a hotbed of radical liberalism, bent on taking down his administration. We should’t have to tell you not to believe Trump’s tweets–they’re absurd. The FBI is many things, but a bastion of leftist free-thinking it is not.

 

Many, many people have decried Trump’s attacks on the FBI. Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) of Lawfareblog seems to be the first to fight back by supporting FBI-related charities. On December 23, he tweeted:

The President is impugning the integrity of the FBI by attacking two honorable public servants: Jim Baker and Andy McCabe. I just donated $1,000 to the in their names. I urge others to give as well and tweet that you did so to .

 

He then retweeted several others who mentioned their donations in honor of Baker and McCabe on social media.

 

Later that day, the FBI Agents Association (@FBIAgentsAssoc) tweeted:

Thank you to everyone who has generously contributed to our charitable funds. Your money will directly benefit FBI families in need.

 

On December 24, former CIA director John Brennan (@JohnBrennan) pointedly joined the cause, tweeting:

Andy McCabe & Jim Baker epitomize integrity, competence, and respect for rule of law. Not surprised fears them, along with the rest of FBI. I just donated to as a small way of saying . Here’s how you can too:

 

The FBI Agents Association administers two charities.

 

The Membership Assistance Fund helps FBI families who suffer a sudden, unforeseen tragedy, such as a cancer diagnosis or an accident.

 

The Memorial College Fund provides scholarships to the children and spouses of FBI personnel who died on the job or within a year of leaving the agency.

 

Both are 501(c) (3) charities. Note: If you are uncomfortable with guns, you might want to focus on the Membership Assistance Fund alone. The Memorial College Fund has raised money through the sale of commemorative firearms.

 

We at OTYCD recognize that the FBI is not a perfect organization, and its history includes some pretty terrible acts. That said, it most emphatically does not deserve the abuse that Trump is raining on it, and we should do what we can to defend the FBI in the context of defending the infrastructure of democracy from the corrosive effects of Trump’s authoritarian whims. Donating to these two FBI charities are a way to stand up for the agency and its people, who have been unfairly maligned.

 

 

See the main donation page for the FBI Agents Association:

https://fbiaa.org/ways-to-donate

 

 

See its page for the Membership Assistance Fund:

https://fbiaa.org/membership-assistance-fund

 

 

See its page for the Memorial College Fund:

https://fbiaa.org/memorial-college-fund

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Call Your House Rep · Ethics · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your House Rep to Oppose HR 620, Which Would Undermine the Rights of the Disabled (Updated For the Week of February 12, 2018)

Update Feb 12, 2018: Congress could vote on HR 620 this week. If you haven’t yet called to oppose it, please do.

This OTYCD post originally appeared in October 2017.

Call your house rep to oppose HR 620, which would alter the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and undermine the rights of the disabled.

The ADA was passed in 1990, under President George H. W. Bush. It required businesses to make accommodations for disabled people, including adding wheelchair ramps and bathroom facilities that can accommodate wheelchairs.

HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, would change the ADA to no longer require businesses to proactively comply with the law. It shifts the burden to disabled customers, who are required to inform the business owner how their rights were violated. Then the wronged disabled people have to wait six months to see if the owner does anything to fix the problems before they can go to court to get them to comply.

You might have noticed that, hey, the law is 27 years old. Shouldn’t pretty much every business that faces the public have brought itself into compliance or sought the necessary waivers? Why yes, yes, they should have. Ages ago. The current law allows businesses to stave off lawsuits if they claim they are making substantial progress toward complying with the ADA. And as you have probably guessed, the government doesn’t generally devote the time or resources needed to nudge businesses to get right with the law.

As of September 7, HR 620 has been reported out of committee. The next step, if it advances, would be a full floor vote in the House. Skopos gives the bill a 17 percent chance of becoming law. Because of where it is in the legislative cycle, we at OTYCD thought the time was right to for an anti-HR 620 action.

As always, before you call, please check the web site and social media accounts of your House rep to see if he or she has said anything about HR 620, and prepare to give thanks or heap scorn. (Politely.)

Sample script: “Dear House Rep (Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zip code). I am calling you to oppose HR 620, which, if passed, would undermine the civil rights of disabled people. Businesses have had 27 years to bring themselves into compliance with the ADA or pursue waivers. Weakening the ADA, which HR 620 would do, would lower the quality of life of millions of aging and disabled Americans. Please oppose this bill and ensure that it does not leave the House of Representatives. Thank you.”

 

See GovTrack’s page on HR 620:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr620

 

Read a piece from the ACLU on the likely effects of HR 620:

https://www.aclu.org/blog/disability-rights/congress-wants-change-americans-disabilities-act-and-undermine-civil-rights

 

Follow the Twitter account of ADAPT, which is all over HR 620-related news and activism:

@NationalADAPT

Ethics · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · First Amendment, Defending a Free Press · Vote with your Dollars

Support Rick Wilson’s Film, Everything Trump Touches Dies

This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.

Support Everything Trump Touches Dies, a film that Florida-based Republican strategist Rick Wilson hopes to finish in time to release in January 2018.

 

Rick Wilson is a Republican who has assisted several high-level Republican campaigns. We at OTYCD began following him after the 2016 election and boy, has that guy brought the fire. He has been unsparing and relentless in his savaging of Trump. If he didn’t coin the phrase “everything Trump touches dies,” he’s certainly popularized it.

 

He plans to co-create a feature-length documentary with that title for release in January 2018. Here’s what he says about the project on its GoFundMe page:

“We’re here to tell the story of the first year of Donald Trump’s reckless, failed Presidency and the damage he’s done to America’s reputation, values, and institutions, and to the allies and supporters who put him in office and served in his White House.

 

We’ve estimated a production budget of $85,000 for a completed documentary, including all editing, shooting, footage and media rights, music, professional voiceover, travel, and legal work related to the film.

 

We hope you’ll join us in making this important film. We’re waiving our usual production fees and putting our own funds and time into the project. If we see the kind of support we know is out there, we’ll begin production immediately, and premiere the film in January of 2018.”

 

This should be good.

 

As of September 23, 2017, Wilson and his creative partner, filmmaker Ben Howe, had raised just over $27,000 for Everything Trump Touches Dies.

 

If you can donate, please do. If you can’t, tell people about the project by promoting it on social media.

 

 

See the GoFundMe page for Everything Trump Touches Dies:

https://www.gofundme.com/everything-trump-touches-dies-film

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Follow Rick Wilson on Twitter, and retweet his pinned tweet, which boost the documentary project:

@TheRickWilson

Community Activism · Escape Your Bubble · Ethics · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Health Care · Marches and Protests · Public Education · Stand for Science · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Commit Now to Put Any Tax Benefits You Might Get from the GOP Tax Bill to Fighting Its Effects

This OTYCD entry originally appeared in December 2017.

If the GOP tax bill passes, will you benefit from it in the form of lower taxes? Commit now to put any extra money to the work of fighting its effects.

 

Yes, the GOP tax bill rewards the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Not too terribly many people who read this will belong to the group who will benefit if it becomes law.

 

Still. If you are one of those people, think about how you will use that money for good, and use it to fight the ill effects of the bill.

 

The bill treats waived graduate school tuition as taxable income. Fight this by talking to your alma mater, or a favorite public or private university, about how you can help relieve the burden the bill imposes on grad students. In particular, do what you can to assist grad students from marginalized communities, who will be hit hardest.

 

The bill removes a tax credit that employers received if they hired veterans. Look around your community, see which organizations are serving veterans and helping them find jobs, and see about pointing your gains in that direction.

 

The bill removes a tax credit for teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms. Find the neediest public school in your community and commit to underwriting those perpetual costs.

 

The variants are endless, but we should also mention yet again that in addition to what you choose to do, you should also support and elect candidates who will change the laws, fix the flaws, and help the people who will be hurt by the GOP tax bill.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!