It is All About the Money: Presidential Conflicts of Interest

Harvard Journal on Legislation Online, 2018

62 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020

Date Written: March 25, 2018

Abstract

The 2016 presidential election marked an increased distrust in the government, bringing a new era of presidential and vice presidential candidates. Current conflict of interest laws do not extend to the President and Vice President due to an outdated fear of interfering with their Article II constitutional powers. While conflicts of interest are not unique to the 21st century, the 2016 election brought about unprecedented conflicts. The 2016 election was unique—President Donald Trump was the first President in decades to refuse to remove notions of financial conflicts of interest. Trump’s acquisitions abroad have led to accusations of bias and bribery along with the fear that U.S. foreign policy will be influenced by his self-interest. Trump touted his conflicts making it clear that current laws are ineffective and outdated. This Article proffers that conflict of interest laws need to extend to the President and Vice President. First, this Article will explain why presidential conflicts of interest were previously not explicitly outlawed. This Article will then discuss current conflicts of interest laws and tools for managing these conflicts. This Article proposes a new law that would apply to presidential and vice presidential candidates which would require them to create a qualified blind trust. Additionally, this Article will explain why the Office of Government Ethics should be charged with overseeing the enforcement of this regulation.

Keywords: conflict of interest, separation of powers, emoluments clause

JEL Classification: K00, K1, K19, K23

Suggested Citation

Block, Samantha, It is All About the Money: Presidential Conflicts of Interest (March 25, 2018). Harvard Journal on Legislation Online, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3606858

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