Fifty years ago, California politician Jesse Unruh said that money was the mother’s milk of politics. Never has that been more true. It is estimated that in this day and age, a Presidential campaign costs upwards of $1 billion dollars. A staggering amount of money for sure. Politicians must appeal to the rank and file of their particular parties for smaller donations and they must rely on uber wealthy campaign donors to reach their financial goals. Recent court rulings have only opened the doors to more money in politics so why should it concern the voters? It is important in the society in which we live and especially in our political process to have a certain transparency as to how and where a candidate gets his or her money. Are wealthy donors expecting a quid pro quo situation? Are lobbyists and special interest groups trying to exert influence on the candidate? Are foreign governments trying to influence an American election? These are questions the American people should be asking
The recent allegations of Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort’s financial windfall from his time in the Ukraine are not particularly troubling to me. He was a private citizen at the time and worked as a political consultant and was apparently paid for his services. Nice work if you can get it but not illegal. What is of concern is the fact that he helped rehabilitate a pro-Russian politician and got him elected in a region trying desperately to hold on to democratic ideals. I think it does merit a small amount of concern that a man who is one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers has had such close ties to pro-Russian entities. That, however is an issue for the American people do decide.
What is more troubling to me is the fact that Donald Trump has not released his tax returns and at this point probably won’t before the election. Now a lot of people are saying that we won’t learn much from Trump’s tax returns anyway but apart from the tax rate he pays and the amount of his charitable contributions, other facts that could possibly come out in the tax returns might be the “bombshell” Mitt Romney referred to back in June. It might tell us, for example, who Trump owes money to, which banks and financial institutions might have influence over him and it might reveal that Donald Trump is not as wealthy as he has claimed. We know from the recent past that everything Mr. Trump says is subject to change and he has no loyalty, except to himself. He has said that his tax return is under audit and therefore he won’t release it but what about prior year returns? Surely they are not all under audit. I would have more respect for him if he just said no, he does not think it is any of our business to know his financial matters and leave it at that. But this constant will he or won’t he is getting old. Release the tax returns or tell the press to go to hell. Then let the American people decide if that is how we want our leaders to behave.