“Exposure for the sake of exposure” i.e., transparency

Here’s the NYT article about the Trump administration refusing to hand over Trump’s tax returns, and in Trump’s 2+2=5 world pretending that the law forbids, rather than requires, that they do so:

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, wrote in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that Mr. Neal’s request for the tax returns “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and that he was not authorized to disclose them. The decision came after weeks of delays as Mr. Mnuchin said that his department and the Justice Department needed to study the provision of the tax code that Democrats were using to seek six years’ worth of the president’s personal and business tax returns.

The request for Mr. Trump’s taxes is the latest instance of the Trump administration rebuffing congressional oversight efforts.

Mr. Mnuchin, who is one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted aides, has signaled his concern about the request, arguing that it appeared to be political in nature and that honoring the demand would be a violation of taxpayer privacy. He has warned that if the I.R.S. releases Mr. Trump’s returns, then lawmakers from both parties could be vulnerable to such prying. In an April 23 letter to Mr. Neal, Mr. Mnuchin said that the demand amounted to “exposure for the sake of exposure.” [emphasis mine]

Obviously, that last line there grabbed my attention.  Exposure for the sake of exposure is also known as transparency in government and is a basic principle of democracy and the rule of law.  Obviously, this does not apply to everything and government officials deserve some privacy, too, but there’s a reason all sorts of public officials need to have their personal financial records vetted or made public as there’s so much potential for corruption.  Sadly, personal corruption is at the heart of Trump’s presidency and damn do as citizens in a democracy have the right to have that exposed.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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