The WØRD – “Corruption”

From the Chair


As we approach the 2024 election, it seems to be the one constant in far too many campaigns – with most of the scandals involving Republicans.

All the news coverage over Donald Trump’s four criminal cases have virtually erased public awareness of a long history of his financial corruption, some dating back decades, that would in more normal times destroy a political candidate. The list is seemingly endless:

  • The well-documented tax scams his father Fred Trump used decades ago to transfer his wealth – more than $400-million – to his son Donald, which were finally revealed after a Pulitizer Prize winning investigation by the New York Times
  • Trump’s current civil trial which wraps up this week, on years of using fraudulent financial statements to bamboozle banks and insurance companies
  • His criminal trial on using tax-deductible corporate money to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels
  • The more than $7-million spent with Trump-owned companies by foreign governments, primarily China and Saudi Arabia, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution … and that’s just during the first two years of his presidency, and at just 4 of his properties.
  • Millions more paid by taxpayers to Trump companies in the form of hotel and golfing expenses billed to the Secret Service for hotel rooms, meals and even golf carts (all at Trump-owned properties) during his almost weekly golfing junkets.
  • $2-billion, plus an annual $25-million payment, funneled to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner just days after Kushner left Trump’s White House staff
  • Forbes magazine reported that the Chinese government granted a total of 41 trademarks to companies linked to Ivanka Trump by April of 2019. The trademarks she applied for after her father became president, according to Forbes, got approved about 40% faster than those she requested before Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election.
  • And Trump donors have been paying Trump’s travel bills as he campaigns and shows up in court – with payments going to Trump’s company which manages his private Boeing 757. He makes a profit every time he travels.

And there’s lots more.

It’s not just Trump. There are the millions lavished on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the many credit-card and campaign fund frauds of George Santos. Democrats are not totally immune: the bribery charges against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and his wife are, if true, just as reprehensible.

In Michigan, the story is almost as bad.

  • One former Speaker of the House is in prison after pleading guilty to bribery charges.
  • Two aides to former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield are charged with pocketing $525,000 from political nonprofits.
  • Their former boss is under criminal investigation, as is another former House Speaker and one of his key staff members.
  • Former northern Michigan Representative Larry Inman is on trial in Grand Rapids this week accused of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.
  • Also under investigation: two former Senate Majority Leaders for alleged misuse of secret campaign funds. 

The common denominator in all of this: so-called dark money. In this week’s podcast we hear from Attorney General Dana Nessel who has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting public corruption.

Dana Nessel is The Peoples’ Attorney. A former criminal prosecutor and civil rights attorney, Michigan’s 54th Attorney General is in her second term after winning reelection in 2022.  Her core initiatives have been fashioned in the image of her promise to Michigan’s residents — to give the Department of Attorney General back to the people that it serves.

A graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School, Attorney General Nessel lives in southeast Michigan with her wife and twin sons.

Trump Outrages of the Week

We’re initiating a new segment to our weekly podcast: the Trump Outrage of the Week. It’s hard to keep up with all the horrendous things he says and does, but we’ll try. In just this week: four outrages.

  1. His efforts to white-wash the January 6th insurrection by calling the hundreds who have been convicted or plead guilty by calling them hostages. They aren’t hostages. They are criminals.
  2. Resurrecting his race-based lies about his political opponents’ right to run based on the circumstances of their birth. Barack Obama. Ted Cruz. Kamala Harris. All of the, he claimed, didn’t meet the “natural born citizen” requirement in the Constitution.. Now, he’s saying the same thing about Nikki Haley. In every case, he’s lying.
  3. In a campaign speech, Trump said he was hoping for a recession in 2024 because a 2025 recession would make him look bad. It’s reminiscent of the early days of COVID. He didn’t want a COVID-infected cruise ship to dock in the U.S. because the increase in COVID cases would make him look bad. In both cases, his concern was his image and not protecting the American people.
  4. The most outrageous Trump moment of the week: the claim made by his attorneys in federal court that, as President, he had the right to break criminal laws – even to order a political assassination – not face criminal prosecution after leaving office: literally, he had a license to kill.

In This Week’s News

Michigan Policy

Michigan Politics

Is There a Republican Party in Michigan Right Now?” – MSNBC


National Politics and Policy