Saturday, February 11, 2017

Raucous Town Hall In Utah Blasts GOP Rep. Chaffetz Over Trump; Huffington Post, February 10, 2017

Mary Papenfuss, Huffington Post; 

Raucous Town Hall In Utah Blasts GOP Rep. Chaffetz Over Trump

[Kip Currier: Even if the U.S. President is exempt from conflict of interest laws, as Rep. Jason Chaffetz asserts below, he ignores a fundamental underpinning of democracy, the rule of law, and good governance: the need for the public's belief in the integrity of such systems. 

To avoid an "air of impropriety" (i.e. perception that a particular action doesn't look "right" or fair)--to promote the U.S. electorate's faith in the integrity of elected officials to not unduly profit from public service--a U.S. President should voluntarily abide by conflict of interest laws and strive for the highest level of ethical conduct.

A related aside about the Judicial Branch, on the "air of impropriety" rationale for voluntary ethical compliance, transparency, and accountability: conflict of interest arguments have been made about the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, who have continually avoided being bound by a formal ethics code and the Code of Conduct for federal judges that applies to every other federal judge. As Lincoln Caplan's 2015 New Yorker article "DOES THE SUPREME COURT NEED A CODE OF CONDUCT?" persuasively posits:

Impartiality is an essential requirement for a judge. But, as Charles Geyh, the legal scholar who directed the A.B.A. study, wrote, “It is not enough that judges be impartial; the public must perceive them to be so.” Whether a judge is on the highest court in the land or on one of the many others, we are much more likely, in a case where his impartiality has been questioned, to view him as impartial if another judge concludes so after conducting an independent appraisal. That’s crucial to the effectiveness of this country’s courts, which makes it crucial to the soundness of American democracy.]

"“Where do you draw a line in the sand?” asked one woman in the audience regarding Trump’s potential conflicts of interest.

“Everyone has to comply with the law,” Chaffetz responded. “You’re really not going to like this part,” again to boos. “The president, under the law, is exempt from the conflict-of-interest laws.”"

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