Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois Cost of Living Adjustment




“‘...In the 21 years from 1969 through 1989 there was only one year that inflation was less than 3.3% and the average annual rate of inflation was just over 6.2%.  In making the decision in 1989 to change our annual increase from three percent simple to three percent compounded, the members of the General Assembly made what they felt was a reasonable assumption that inflation would continue and that it would grow at the rate that it had been for more than 20 years.  Since state pensions had not kept up with inflation they would provide a necessary increase, but they did not ask anyone to pay for it because they assumed it would not really be expensive.  The change would cost the state, but they assumed it would still run behind inflation. And growing inflation would mean the state would collect more tax revenue’ (Bob Lyons, former Trustee for the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois).

“Anticipating further elevated inflation rates, the General Assembly granted a change from 3% simple to 3% compounded COLA in 1990 to the retirees in TRS. 

“Since 1990, (high of 4.1% in 2007 and low of .1 in 2008) the average inflation rate for the country has been overall 2.4%.   As Mr. Lyons writes, ‘The reality is that the change from 3% simple to 3% compounded did just what it was supposed to do and it has more than protected us from inflation.’

“And he’s right.  On average, thus far, we are looking back nearly 30 years with a .6% positive break.  And in our current media environment of people turning on each other rather than to each other, this COLA correction seems unacceptable to those who criticize the Illinois ‘Pension Problem’ as simply an issue of too many benefits. The finger pointing by the Tribune and other anti-union organizations ignore the truth: the cost of pension would not be so overwhelming if there were no debt payment as a result of decades of avoiding payments.  

“Eric Madiar, the former Chief Legal Counsel for Senate Leader John Cullerton and author of a thorough exegesis ‘Is Welching on Public Pension Promises an Option for Illinois?' speaking before the City Club of Chicago, once reminded his audience: ‘Our current pension disaster cannot be blamed on salary or pension cost increases.  Between 1985 and 2014, pension funding liabilities grew by $97 billion.  Benefit increase only counted for 8%, or $8 billion of that growth.  Pay increases were actually less than actuaries had assumed they would be. And the actually helped bring down the unfunded liability by $1.3 billion.  The state's failure to fund the system accounts for 49 or 47% of that growth.  So simply out, the main reason we are in this mess is for insufficient pension contributions’ (City Club of Chicago). 

“But like any Zen Balance question, we are all awash in what may decidedly come again in another inevitable wave.  Okay, so now maybe we are .6 ahead.  Now.  But in the 15 years before the 3% compounded (1975-1989), we were battling an average of 6.7% inflation – or a 3.6% disadvantage even if pensioners had compounded COLA’s.  

“Maybe the General Assembly didn't foresee a lessening of inflation or the Great Recession, but they understood what continued rampant inflation was doing to state retirees.  

“And, it’s not pensioners that created the fiscal problems at the state or municipal levels; it is and will always be the avoidance of funding the pensions that now comprise the interest-laden debt which must be serviced yearly.  As Bob Lyons also wisely points out, ‘The truth is that this year 76% of the 8.5 billion going to pensions is to make up for the continuous past underfunding of the five systems.  If Illinois pensions were fully funded, all it would take to fund the pensions for all current employees would be just a little more than two billion dollars. The so-called pension problem in Illinois has in reality not been caused by the cost of our pensions, but by the failure to fully fund them’…” (For the complete article by John Dillon, click here).


Commentary:

On May 8, 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. All seven justices concurred in the judgment and opinion (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees v. Pat Quinn, Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants)]. There are two interesting footnotes in the judgment on pension reform litigation regarding COLA: "By way of comparison, data published by the Social Security Administration show that Social Security increases, which are tied to the cost of living, averaged 3.98%, nearly a percentage point more than under the Illinois formula, between 1975 and 2014 (page 4)." (http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/colaseries.html.). "While the automatic annual increases have sometimes exceeded changes in the cost of living, these judgments are not cost of living adjustments, and as indicated earlier in this disposition, the increases have actually lagged the average increases granted by the Social Security Administration, which are tied to the cost of living" (page 27). 


Regarding the Cost-of Living Adjustment (COLA) of the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System: 
 
Illinois Pension Code: 40 ILCS 5/16-133.1) (from Ch. 108 1/2, par. 16-133.1) Sec. 16-133. (Automatic annual increase in annuity):

(a) Each member with creditable service and retiring on or after August 26, 1969 is entitled to the automatic annual increases in annuity provided under this Section while receiving a retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity from the system. An annuitant shall first be entitled to an initial increase under this Section on the January 1 next following the first anniversary of retirement, or January 1 of the year next following attainment of age 61, whichever is later. At such time, the system shall pay an initial increase determined as follows:

(1) 1.5% of the originally granted retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity multiplied by the number of years elapsed, if any, from the date of retirement until January 1, 1972, plus

(2) 2% of the originally granted annuity multiplied by the number of years elapsed, if any, from the date of retirement or January 1, 1972, whichever is later, until January 1, 1978, plus

(3) 3% of the originally granted annuity multiplied by the number of years elapsed from the date of retirement or January 1, 1978, whichever is later, until the effective date of the initial increase. However, the initial annual increase calculated under this Section for the recipient of a disability retirement annuity granted under Section 16-149.2 shall be reduced by an amount equal to the total of all increases in that annuity received under Section 16-149.5 (but not exceeding 100% of the amount of the initial increase otherwise provided under this Section).

Following the initial increase, automatic annual increases in annuity shall be payable on each January 1 thereafter during the lifetime of the annuitant, determined as a percentage of the originally-granted retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity for increases granted prior to January 1, 1990, and calculated as a percentage of the total amount of annuity, including previous increases under this Section, for increases granted on or after January 1, 1990, as follows: 1.5% for periods prior to January 1, 1972, 2% for periods after December 31, 1971 and prior to January 1, 1978, and 3% for periods after December 31, 1977.

(b) The automatic annual increases in annuity provided under this Section shall not be applicable unless a member has made contributions toward such increases for a period equivalent to one full year of creditable service. If a member contributes for service performed after August 26, 1969 but the member becomes an annuitant before such contributions amount to one full year's contributions based on the salary at the date of retirement, he or she may pay the necessary balance of the contributions to the system and be eligible for the automatic annual increases in annuity provided under this Section. 

c) Each member shall make contributions toward the cost of the automatic annual increases in annuity as provided under Section 16-152.

(d) An annuitant receiving a retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity on July 1, 1969, who subsequently reenters service as a teacher is eligible for the automatic annual increases in annuity provided under this Section if he or she renders at least one year of creditable service following the latest re-entry.

(e) In addition to the automatic annual increases in annuity provided under this Section, an annuitant who meets the service requirements of this Section and whose retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity began on or before January 1, 1971 shall receive, on January 1, 1981, an increase in the annuity then being paid of one dollar per month for each year of creditable service. On January 1, 1982, an annuitant whose retirement annuity or disability retirement annuity began on or before January 1, 1977 shall receive an increase in the annuity then being paid of one dollar per month for each year of creditable service. On January 1, 1987, any annuitant whose retirement annuity began on or before January 1, 1977, shall receive an increase in the monthly retirement annuity equal to 8¢ per year of creditable service times the number of years that have elapsed since the annuity began.

Source: Illinois Pension Code



Friday, March 29, 2019

Vote for Doug Strand for Trustee of the Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois: Voting Begins April 1st




 "Mr. Strand holds two Bachelor’s and one Master’s degree. He was an accounting intern during his undergraduate years at Luther College with Price Waterhouse in Chicago, Illinois. After college, Mr. Strand worked as an account auditor in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

"After that experience, Mr. Strand worked as an educator for forty years until his retirement at United Township in East Moline, teaching history, consumer education, and economics. Mr. Strand served as a member of the East Moline’s Police Pension Board and the East Moline City Council. Currently, Mr. Strand serves as Vice President of the Blackhawk College Board of Trustees.

"Mr. Strand also sat on the Board of the Service Plus Credit Union, a credit union founded by educators of East Moline High School.  And the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association, a stalwart and resolute defender of retirees’ pension benefits, has selected this individual to steward and protect our funds and benefits. That’s more than a significant reason to Vote for Doug Strand.  

"But you should listen to Mr. Strand himself.  You’ll see why the IRTA endorses him too."

-John Dillon



Why I am not voting for Cinda Klickna:

It was the IEA leadership of Ken Swanson and Cinda Klickna that “proudly supported” Senate Bill 7 signed into law in June 2011, the bill that ensured that teachers’ evaluations and their tenure were tied to the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (Public Act 96-0861), the bill that ensured a so-called “streamlined process for the dismissal of teacher tenure,” the bill that also required an authorization of 75% for a strike vote in Chicago, to name just a few complications that confront today's teachers.

It was on July, 2, 2012 when Fred Klonsky, John Dillon, Michael Cousineau, Catherine Lenzini, and I met with Cinda Klickna and other IEA leaders to discuss our concerns about the IEA's willingness to negotiate teachers' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits and rights. Of course, the IEA leadership did not heed our advice. 

Instead, 10 months later we witnessed the folly of the IEA leadership's agreement to a reduction of pension retirees’ benefits and rights in Senate Bill 2404 in May, 2013.  The IEA leadership believed SB 2404 would have thwarted any further attacks on the Pension Protection Clause. Fortunately, Michael Madigan never called for a vote on this bill.  What soon followed, however, was Michael Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in December 2013, a diminishment and impairment of teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed benefits. Senate Bill 1 was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court on May 8, 2015.

-Glen Brown



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Consistent Incompetence and Hubris of the Illinois Education Association Leadership




It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Bob Haisman when the flawed “Pension Ramp” (Public Act 88-0593) was signed into law in 1995. It was later discovered that "the Statutory Funding Plan's contribution schedule increased the unfunded liability, underfunded the State's pension obligations, and deferred pension funding. The resulting underfunding of the pension systems enabled the State to shift the burden associated with its pension costs to the future and, as a result, created a significant financial stress and risks for the State..." (In re Pension Reform Litigation (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees v. Pat Quinn, Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants)). 

It was under the IEA leadership and agreement of Ken Swanson when SB 1946 passed on March 24, 2010 in approximately 10 hours, a senate bill where Tier II members would begin subsidizing both Tier I and Tier II benefits, where the state would eventually not owe any annual contribution to TRS because the Tier II members would be paying down the entire cost, where Tier II members will receive a TRS pension that will be less than Social Security, and where school districts will be responsible for making up the difference. 

It was the IEA leadership of Ken Swanson and Cinda Klickna that “proudly supported” Senate Bill 7 signed into law in June 2011, the bill that ensured that teachers’ evaluations and their tenure were tied to the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (Public Act 96-0861), the bill that ensured a so-called “streamlined process for the dismissal of teacher tenure,” the bill that also required an authorization of 75% for a strike vote in Chicago, to name just a few complications that confront today's teachers.

It was on July, 2, 2012 when Fred Klonsky, John Dillon, Michael Cousineau, Catherine Lenzini, and I met with Cinda Klickna and other IEA leaders to discuss our concerns about the IEA's willingness to negotiate teachers' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits and rights. Of course, the IEA leadership did not heed our advice. 

Instead, 10 months later we witnessed the folly of the IEA leadership's agreement to a reduction of pension retirees’ benefits and rights in Senate Bill 2404 in May, 2013.  The IEA leadership believed SB 2404 would have thwarted any further attacks on the Pension Protection Clause. Fortunately, Michael Madigan never called for a vote on this bill.  What soon followed, however, was Michael Madigan’s Senate Bill 1 in December 2013, another diminishment and impairment of teachers’ and retirees’ constitutionally-guaranteed benefits. Senate Bill 1 was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court on May 8, 2015.

It is the current IEA leadership under Kathi Griffin that recently endorsed candidates, such as Michael Connelly, Don Harmon, Sue Rezin and others, who had voted to diminish and impair teachers’ and retirees’ pension benefits.

It is the current IEA leadership of Kathi Griffin that recently stated: "...It’s refreshing to have a governor not only focused on what is best for students and Illinois’ future, but who is willing to work collaboratively to get the best results... We applaud Gov. Pritzker for looking at various funding sources because funding has to play a role in the future he’s building for Illinois. A starving state cannot grow. And, we find the Governor’s pension proposal an interesting start to the conversation..." Both the Illinois Retired Teachers’ Association and the Teachers’ Retirement Association have emphatically disagreed with Pritzker's proposed state budget.  




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Concerns about the 2020 Illinois State Budget from the Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois



The Teachers' Retirement System Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the following statement concerning state funding for the System as presented in the Illinois state budget proposal for fiscal year 2020:

The Teachers' Retirement System is currently 40 percent funded. The System is at a growing risk of insolvency in the event of an economic downturn. This danger is the direct result of eight decades of state contributions that always have fallen far short of actuarially-based funding. TRS long-term investment returns consistently exceed the System's expectations, but investment income alone will not be enough to prevent insolvency.

The TRS Board's fiduciary duty to its 417,000 members is its paramount concern. The payment of future TRS benefits is jeopardized without a credible plan to address the System's long-term sustainability. The TRS Board and staff unanimously adopts the following positions and will actively pursue their realization as a state government budget is developed for fiscal year 2020:

  • TRS opposes any fiscal year 2020 budget for the state of Illinois that will appropriate to the System less than $4,813,577,696, the contribution calculated under state pension funding law and certified by the System on January 14, 2019.
  • TRS opposes any extension of the target date currently in statute for the System to reach 90 percent funding. The target should remain no later than fiscal year 2045.
  • TRS repeats its long-standing warning that the state's current pension funding law perpetually locks in underfunding for the system. A "full funding" state contribution for TRS in fiscal year 2020 is $7,878,670,709, as certified in January of this year.
  • TRS opposes any expansion of the current member "buyout" program if an expanded program does not fund the buyouts with monies other than from System assets. At a funding level of 40 percent, TRS is not accumulating any assets to pay the future benefits of active members and could not afford to buy them out. 
  • We respectfully request that, as in recent years, TRS and our System actuaries participate in the fiscal analysis and evaluation of any proposals that would impact the System and its members.

We stand ready to work with anyone on solutions to these important issues.

Sincerely, 
Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois 



Amending the Illinois Pension Protection Clause



“…So long as the governor is considering a change to the Illinois Constitution, he should not stop with just one. Pritzker should add a constitutional amendment to change the state’s pension clause — the one that has stood in the way of pension reform for decades now…
“The Illinois Constitution’s best-known codicil is the one that declares pensions are a contract that can never be ‘diminished or impaired.’ Those seemingly common sense words have stood in the way of several fair-minded reform plans, including one passed by the Democratic-led legislature in 2013 that the state Supreme Court struck down two years later.
“Pritzker in his budget address said the state is obligated ‘to pay the pensions that are owed.’ How that is defined can be a matter of debate, yet the courts have so broadly interpreted the obligation that no meaningful reform can get through. A new pension clause would give policymakers options they do not currently have…
“Pritzker may not need a package deal of constitutional reforms. He probably can get the votes to pass his tax amendment without a pension fix, too. But the progressive tax alone won’t solve the state’s fiscal problems.
“Passing both amendments together would be a good sign that voters in all income brackets can look forward to some measure of relief from their new governor. Gov. Pritzker should begin that process now”—David Greising, president of the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based civic watchdog organization (The State Journal-Register, March 18, 2019). 

Mr. David Greising:

There is nothing ambiguous or vague about these decrees:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law nor be denied the equal protection of the laws” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article 1—Due Process and Equal Protection, Section 2).

“Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation as provided by law. Such compensation shall be determined by a jury as provided by law” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article 1—Right of Eminent Domain, Section 15).

“No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts…shall be passed” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article I—Ex Post Facto Laws and Impairing Contracts, Section 16/The Constitution of the United States, Article 1—Limitations on Powers of States, Section 10).     

“Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired” (The Constitution of the State of Illinois, Article XIII—Pension and Retirement Rights, Section 5: The Pension Protection Clause).
 
We cannot mistake the meaning of words such as “shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired” because we understand and speak the English language. If words in our State Constitution are to refer or mean anything, they must be commonly understood and accepted as they have been for decades. Moreover, if words are to refer to anything, they must also be understood through their use, role, employment and past agreements.

If there is anything else we might examine regarding the Pension Protection Clause and its relationship to a reality that reveals repeated attempts by the wealthy elite, their politicians and the media to amend constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefit rights, perhaps we should also dispute these relentless attacks on the very intelligibility of the English language.

As stated, the foundation of public employees’ and retirees’ rights is the State and U.S. Constitutions that directly support any claims against them. State contracts are also protected by the federal government. Understandably, the 5th and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution protect due process of law. In Illinois, the legal basis for protection of past-and-future public pension rights are established in both constitutions.

Unfortunately, there are people who want to amend the Pension Protection Clause. They do not care whether teachers and other public employees have contributed responsibly to their pension funds or that teachers will receive little to no Social Security when they retire. They do not care whether retired teachers’ and other public employees’ defined-benefit pension plans are a fundamental source of economic stimulus to communities in Illinois and the only retirement income for hundreds of thousands of people.
They do not care that the State of Illinois has not consistently paid its full constitutional and obligatory contributions to the public pension systems throughout the decades, that this money was diverted to other operating expenses and special interests’ groups, that the State of Illinois saved billions of dollars by not paying what actuaries have calculated the Teachers’ Retirement System should have received throughout the years, that this theft also enabled the State of Illinois to provide services for its citizenry without raising taxes during that time, and that this money was deferred-earned income for teachers in Illinois.
Furthermore, they do not care that an amendment to Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois State Constitution does not nullify the $134 billion unfunded liability that the state continues to perpetuate by not fully funding the pension systems.
To possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all Illinois legislators to protect that right. There are no rights without obligations. They are mutually dependent. Fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents.

The keeping of contractual promises is the Illinois General Assembly’s legal duty. It is something the State and U.S. Constitutions require them to do whether they want to or not. All citizens of the State of Illinois have legal justification for their rights, especially for compensation they have earned. For rights and obligations are logically correlative, and a citizen’s rights imply or complement the state legislators’ obligation to guarantee them.

-Glen Brown




Trump is “the most horribly unqualified person for the presidency in history”




1. The Russia Scandal
Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and members of Trump's family are all implicated in the Russia scandal.

There is overwhelming evidence that Trump’s campaign accepted help from Russia in the 2016 election. Many high level members of Trump’s presidential campaign have already been investigated, indicted and convicted of crimes in the Russia investigation. This is such a wide ranging scandal with so many different people and so many different illegal activities, that we will go into much greater detail later in this article.


2. The Moscow Trump Tower Scandal
While running for president, Donald Trump repeatedly lied about his business dealings with Russia. He claimed at the time to have no involvement with Russia, but it has since been revealed that he was negotiating with the Russian government and Russian business interests about developing a Trump Tower in Moscow. It is a huge conflict of interest for a US president - or presidential candidate - to have such a close financial involvement with a foreign country, especially one like Russia that is often an adversary of the United States.

·         Link: Trump Told Cohen to Lie about Moscow Tower Project - Vanity Fair
This article contains greater details about the Moscow Trump Tower scandal.

3. The Trump Foundation Scandal
Trump used his charitable foundation to pay for private and political expenses. For example, the Trump Foundation illegally made a $25,000 contribution to the Florida Attorney General who was investigating Trump’s fraudulent University. To cover up the illegal payment, the Trump Foundation falsely reported the $25,000 contribution on their taxes, claiming that it went to a charity in Kansas which, in fact, never received any money from them.


4. The Trump University Scandal
Thousands of people were scammed out of large sums of money by the fraudulent Trump University. Although Trump repeatedly said he would never pay a dime to the people suing him, he was ultimately forced to pay $25 million to settle the lawsuits and keep it from going to trial.

·         Link - Federal Court Orders Trump to pay $25 Million in University Fraud - NBC News A federal court approved a $25 million settlement with students who said they were duped by Donald Trump and his now-defunct Trump University.

5. Trump Porn Star Scandal
President Trump illegally paid an adult film star to keep quiet about their affair during his presidential campaign. Trump had his personal lawyer write checks totaling $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their affair. Although Trump has implied that no such affair ever took place, he admits there was a non-disclosure agreement preventing Ms. Daniels from talking about it.

6. Trump Sexual Harassment Scandal
Trump’s own words indicate he repeatedly committed sexual harassment. Trump bragged about sexually groping women in the Access Hollywood recording. He also bragged about going backstage at beauty pageants and seeing contestants half naked. When those same women reported that Trump did the very things that he bragged about, Trump suddenly claimed it wasn’t true.
Trump said this to Howard Stern about the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants in 2005:
I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it.
‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they're standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.


7. The Michael Cohen Scandal
Trump’s strongest defender was his private attorney, Michael Cohen, who testified before Congress on Trump's behalf. That testimony got Cohen convicted of perjury. After his perjury conviction, Cohen again testified before Congress. This time he called Trump a racist, a con man and a cheat.
According to Cohen’s testimony, Trump routinely made racist remarks, had Cohen threaten people, had Cohen lie about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow and make hush money payments to silence women with whom Trump had affairs. He also testified that Trump used his charitable foundation to pay for his private expenses.
Cohen said Trump’s friend, Roger Stone, talked with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, about the timing of making Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails public.

8. The Trump Inauguration Scandal
The Trump Inauguration committee raised $107 Million. Much of that money is still unaccounted for. Trump’s inaugural committee is being investigated for conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud, disclosure violations, and straw donor violations, which enabled people who disguise their donations to the Trump inauguration. Some of those illegal donations are believed to have come from Russian businessmen.


9. The Jared Kushner Security Clearance Scandal
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner lied on his application for security clearance by not disclosing dozens of contacts he’d had with foreign governments, including Russia. This type of omission is a felony and usually more than enough to get someone’s security clearance denied. However, National Security officials were ordered to give Kushner the clearance anyway, which is an extraordinary national security violation.


10. The Trump Immigration Scandal
In April of 2018, Trump started a policy of separating children from their parents when they seek asylum at the US border. Once separated from their parents, the Trump administration did not maintain a process for reuniting the children with their parents again. Members of the Trump administration admitted that this horrific policy was intended to discourage people from applying for asylum at the border. Trump lied when he said this policy had been law for many years. The law does not mandate that kids be separated from their parents.

11. Trump's Multiple Conflict of Interest Scandals.
Unlike every other president, Trump refused to divest himself of his business interests or put his financial holdings in a blind trust. This means he knows how his actions as president have a direct impact on his personal financial investments.
Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the US Office of Government Ethics tried to get President Trump to divest his business interests to avoid such conflicts but Trump refused. Shaub saw so many ethics violations and conflicts of interest that he ultimately resigned in protest.
Trump has profited greatly from his presidency like no other president before him. After he became president, Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort doubled its membership fees. The White house has promoted Melania’s jewelry line and Ivanka’s line of clothing. During the 2016 election, Trump made millions of dollars when he charged his campaign for use of Trump Tower, Trump’s airplane and Trump’s restaurants.

12. Foreign Influence Buying Scandal
Government officials and businesses from many foreign countries have increasingly chosen to rent office space or stay at Trump owned hotels since Donald Trump became president.
Since, unlike previous presidents, Trump has refused to divest himself from his business interests, he financially benefits directly from every foreign country and foreign owned business that rents his properties. This is the worst possible type of conflict of interest for a President of the United States.

·         Link - Trump's Biggest Conflict Of Interest Is Hiding In Plain Sight - Forbes
More than 150 Trump tenants--from foreign governments to big banks--throw the president's business some $175 million a year without an accounting of who they are or how much they pay.

13. Trump's Highly Questionable Mental State
Trump alternates between being a ruthless bully, who uses the office of the president to attack, smear and ridicule people on a daily basis, to a self-pitying crybaby who is constantly whining about how his political opponents, the media or the courts are treating him.
Most US presidents learn to grow a thick skin and ignore much of the criticism aimed at them, but Donald Trump is so incredibly thin skinned that he has to attack anyone who even mildly criticizes him, whether it’s the parents of a soldier who died in service to his country, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico discussing the speed of the relief efforts, or a celebrity who makes a joke about him on TV. Trump's petty childishness seems to have no end. He frequently pounds out angry Tweets in the middle of the night over minor comments by celebrities.

His Odd Obsession with the Size of his Hands:
Years ago a magazine editor referred to Donald Trump as a “Short fingered vulgarian”. Afterward Trump often sent the editor pictures of himself torn from magazines with circles drawn around his hands and the words “see, not so short” written next to them.
After hearing about this, Senator Marco Rubio joked about how small Trump’s hands were. Trump couldn’t let it go. “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands – if they’re small something else must be small. I guarantee there’s no problem. I guarantee it.”

14. His Constant Self-Congratulation Indicates Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

To hear Trump talk, everything he does is always the best, the most, the tallest, the smartest. He said he had the biggest election victory since Reagan (it wasn’t). He often claims his book was the biggest selling book of all time (It wasn’t even in the top 100). He constantly tweets that he has had the most successful presidency of any president, EVER.
About terrorism, “I know more about ISIS than the Generals, believe me.” He had the “largest crowd in inaugural history”. His golf course is “the best resort in the country”. “I would build a great wall – and nobody builds better walls than me, believe me.” “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, believe me.” On the day the World Trade Center fell in 2001, Trump bragged that his Trump Tower was now the tallest building in New York.

15. Trump has already been caught in more outright lies than any other president
Unlike most politicians, Donald Trump, does not simply exaggerate, distort or mislead. He tells outright lies that are easily disproved. Here is a small sampling of some of Trump's whoppers.
A) Trump lied about US immigration policy for Muslims vs. Christians.

·         Link - Trump claim about Muslims entering the US is false. - PolitiFact
Trump said US immigration policy made it easy for Muslims to enter the United States and nearly impossible for Christians to get in. Based on the known numbers of people entering the country, this statement was easily proved to be false.

B) Trump lied about seeing thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on 9/11.


During a speech in 2015, Trump said, “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed. Trump insisted that this cheering was reported extensively on TV at the time. Yet there is no record of any news reports at that time saying this happened. The police have no records of this happening. Trump literally made the whole thing up.

C) Trump lied about Obama releasing “vicious prisoners” from Guantanamo Bay.

·         Link - Trump wrongly blames Obama for releasing terrorists - PolitiFact
Trump falsely claimed that the Obama administration released 122 “vicious prisoners” from Guantanamo Bay who returned to the battlefield. In reality, almost all of those prisoners were released by the Bush administration, not Obama.

D) Trump lied about Mexico paying for the border wall.
Trump insisted before, during and after the election that Mexico would pay for the border wall he wanted to build, despite the fact that the Mexican government said they would never pay for any wall. Shortly after becoming president, he asked Congress to appropriate taxpayer’s money for the wall and made no mention of Mexico paying for it.
Trump now claims he always meant that Mexico would pay for the wall through improved trade agreements. However, even if an improvement with our trade deficit with Mexico occurred, that money doesn’t go into the treasury, and it couldn’t be used to pay for the wall.

E) Trump lied for years about releasing his taxes.
Every presidential candidate since the 1960s has voluntarily released several years of tax returns to be viewed by the public and the media. This is a good faith gesture to prove they have nothing to hide. After promising for years to release his income taxes – even saying that he would be “happy” to do so – Trump announced after the election that he would not release any of his tax returns. He clearly never intended to do so and lied about it throughout the campaign.

F) Trump lied about opposing the Iraq War.
Mr. Trump claims he had opposed the war in Iraq, but in 2002 he told Howard Stern that he supported an Iraq invasion. In an interview on Sept. 11, 2002, Stern asked Trump directly if he was for invading Iraq. "Yeah I guess so," Trump responded. "I wish the first time it was done correctly." There is no record of Trump ever publicly opposing the invasion of Iraq before the war started. Ironically, he now says we never should have left Iraq. We should have, according to Trump, stayed in Iraq so we could take all their oil. “And I said, take the oil when we leave. But we shouldn’t have really left.”

Now let’s look at the Trump/Russia scandal in greater detail:
The complete list of Trump’s connections with Russian leader Vladimir Putin are too numerous to list here. Although Trump frequently repeats "No collusion" like his personal mantra, many of his friends, allies and campaign workers have been indicted and convicted of crimes in the Russia investigation.

16. Trump’s campaign manager gave data to Russia which could help them interfere in our election.
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, worked for a long time helping Russian President Vladimir Putin install his handpicked politicians in places like Ukraine. Due to Manafort’s long involvement with Putin, he had been under investigation by US intelligence long before he worked for Trump.
As Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort gave analytical polling data to suspected Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik. This data would enable them to carefully target the people and regions of the country to influence the 2016 election. Manafort later went to prison for lying to prosecutors to conceal the fact that he gave this data to the Russians.

17. Donald Trump Jr. sought help from Russia in getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.
In June of 2016, Donald Trump Jr. responded to an email from a Russian lawyer who said the Russian government wanted to give him dirt on Hillary Clinton, by saying “I love it”. Soon afterward, Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner all met with the Russian lawyer who said that Russia wanted to help Trump win. When asked about this later, Trump Jr. lied and said the meeting had nothing to do with the campaign.


18. Donald Trump publicly asked Russia to help in winning the election.
Just weeks after receiving the offer of help from the Russian lawyer, Donald Trump publicly asked Russia to release dirt on Hillary Clinton in order to help him win the election. Trump promised that Russia would be "richly rewarded" for this. In the same speech he mentioned lifting sanctions against Russia. Investigations later revealed that Russia did, in fact, obtain information about Hillary Clinton and leak it to help Trump get elected. It was also revealed that Trump adviser Michael Flynn discussed lifting sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

19. Trump changed the Republican Party platform to be more favorable toward Russia

In 2016, the Republican Party had a plank in their party platform that was highly critical of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. After Trump secured the needed delegates to win the Republican nomination, the Trump campaign quietly changed the Republican Party platform to remove the section that supports Ukraine against Russia.

20. Trump’s National Security Adviser had to resign after lying about his involvement with Russia.

Trump appointed as National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, even though he was a registered agent for a foreign country and had many undisclosed contacts with Russia.
·         Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions against Russia.
·         Flynn lied to the Pentagon about his ties to Russia on his application for top security clearance.
·         Flynn invoked the 5th Amendment and refused to answer questions about his ties to Russia unless he received immunity from prosecution.
·         Ultimately, Flynn confessed to the charge of lying to the FBI in a plea bargain agreement.

21. A Trump foreign policy adviser was actually recruited by Russian intelligence.

Trump’s foreign policy campaign adviser, Carter Page, who had many business dealings in Russia and traveled to Moscow on behalf of the Trump campaign, was investigated by the FBI because he had so many contacts with Russian intelligence that they tried to recruit him.

22. Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lied under oath about his contacts with Russia.

Sessions lied about his contacts with Russian intelligence when he claimed he had not met with any Russian. In fact he met with the Russian ambassador. While it was not illegal for Sessions to meet with the ambassador, it was illegal to lie to Congress about it. This forced Sessions to recuse himself for any involvement with the investigations into the Trump Russia probe.

23. Trump tacitly admitted to obstruction of justice regarding the Russia investigation.

In an interview with NBC News, Trump admitted that he fired the FBI director because of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. That alone is obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense. After Trump fired Comey, he bragged to Russian officials visiting the White House that firing Comey took “great pressure” off of him over the Russia investigation.

24. Here's a list of reasons why the Trump campaign is under federal investigation.

·         In late 2016, US intelligence agencies concluded with “high confidence” that Russia was interfering to help Donald Trump get elected president.
·         On the campaign trail, Trump often repeated what turned out to be false talking points about Hillary Clinton that came from the Russian news media.
·         Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort spent years working for Vladimir Putin to install pro-Russian politicians in countries like Ukraine before volunteering to work for Trump for free.
·         Manafort gave analytical polling data to a suspected Russian agent which could help Russia target their interference in the election.
·         During the campaign, Trump lied about his Moscow business dealings.
·         Trump's campaign adviser, Michael Flynn, spoke to the Russian Ambassador about lifting US sanctions and then lied about it.
·         Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.
·         Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador in December and did not disclose his contacts with Russia on his application for security clearance.
·         Trump ordered National Security officials to give Kushner the clearance anyway
·         Jared Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr met with a Russian Lawyer specifically to get dirt on Hillary Clinton – and then lied about it.
·         A month after the meeting with the Russian lawyer, Trump publicly asked Russia to reveal any information to hurt Hillary Clinton and help him win the election.
·         Trump adviser Carter Page had dozens of contacts with Russia that Russian intelligence tried to recruit him.
·         Trump got the Republican National Committee to remove their harsh criticism of Russia from the Republican Party platform
·         Trump admitted he fired the FBI Director to impede the Russia investigation.
·         Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lied to Congress about his ties to Russia.
·         Sessions illegally falsified information about his contacts with Russia on his Justice Department security application.
·         Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had huge conflicts of interest and stood to make a fortune if sanctions against Russia are lifted.
·         Trump adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the campaign’s ties to Russia.
25. Trump ignored the deaths of thousands in Puerto Rico
After the official death toll from Hurricane Maria rose to nearly 3000 people, Trump insisted that the actual death toll was around 60 and claimed the Democrats made up that larger number just to make him look bad. He actually trivialized the deaths of nearly 3000 people to make himself look like a victim.

26. Thanks to Trump, our allies no longer trust us

After a terrorist attack in Manchester England on May 25, 2017, the Trump Administration had leaked so much classified information to the media that the United Kingdom said they would stop sharing information about the terrorist attack with the United States.


Due to Trump’s incessant lies, insults and contrasting policy statements, many of our allies have publicly stated that they do not trust him and are struggling to gauge whether they can depend on the United States to honor commitments.

27. For no apparent reason, Trump reduced automobile fuel efficiency standards
Although auto makers had already agreed to higher fuel efficiency standards, Trump reduced those standards for no apparent reason. Thanks to this decision, our fossil fuel consumption is increasing as is our dependence on foreign oil and the amount of toxins in our air. There was no positive economic benefit to roll back these standards.

28. He’s making climate change worse.
Despite the objections of the overwhelming majority of scientists, Trump is rolling back all the climate change initiatives from the past few years. There is virtually no benefit to this country by easing these standards, but Trump is rejecting the entire scientific community just so he can help a few corporate CEOs make a few more dollars at the expense of everyone else.

29. Trump is destroying the best things about America.
·         He eliminated federal funding to a program to feed the elderly.
·         He cut funding for mammograms and other women’s health screenings.
·         He reduced environmental standards to allow more toxins in our drinking water.
·         He's made it easier for the mentally ill to get a gun.
·         And his tax proposals redistribute more wealth from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy.

30. He is determined to take healthcare way from millions of Americans.

Every one of the proposed replacements for Obamacare would take health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and give huge tax breaks to the very rich.

31. He is setting us up for another collapse of he financial system

Dodd-Frank was the law enacted to prevent another financial collapse like the one in 2008. Although many people said it didn’t go far enough in regulating the financial institutions, Donald Trump wants to repeal it altogether and take us back to the same conditions that gave us the financial collapse that cost taxpayers a trillion dollars to bail out big corporations. Once again this will benefit a few of his wealthy friends, but it will hurt the rest of us.

32. Trump has a bizarre relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump insists that he got Kim Jong Un to end his nuclear weapons program despite the fact that all US intelligence agencies report that program is continuing unabated. According to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, when US intelligence agencies informed the president that North Korea was developing missiles capable of reaching the United States, Trump refused to believe them. Trump said he believed Vladimir Putin, who told him that North Korea had no such missiles.

·         Link - Trump dismissed US advice on North Korea threat, says McCabe - The Guardian
Former FBI chief says president believed Russian leader over US security agencies and ‘a crime may have been committed’ over Comey firing

33. Trump has lowered the bar for future presidencies.

Prior to Donald Trump, we have never before had someone become president with such a complete and total lack of experience in governing and the military. No candidate has ever demonstrated the ignorance of political issues that he did in the debates. No presidential nominee has had such a well-documented history of sexist behavior toward women as Trump. No candidate has ever had Trump’s tendency toward obnoxious, childish and crude behavior. If Trump is the new normal, then this does not bode well for the future of our country.

34. Trump said he wants US troops in Iraq to take their oil.

Trump has in recent years repeatedly endorsed the bizarre, bellicose fantasy that the U.S. could and should seize oil fields in Iraq and Libya. Donald Trump repeatedly said we should keep US troops in Middle Eastern countries like Iraq indefinitely for the purpose of seizing their oilfields and taking their oil.

He told the Wall Street Journal “I always heard that when we went into Iraq we went in for the oil. I said, ‘oh, that sounds smart.’ But, we never did. I would take the oil. “So you would keep troops in Iraq after this year?” asked Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly Evans. “I would take the oil,” Trump responded. Confused, Evans responded, “Does that mean keeping troops there, or staying involved in Iraq?” “You heard me, I would take the oil,” Trump insisted. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.”

35. Trump appointed Steve Bannon, a white nationalist, as White House Chief Strategist.
Steve Bannon is known for racially divisive, sexist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric on the Breitbart website. It is the height of irony that Donald Trump, the president who decries “fake news” hired one of the worst purveyors of fake news in the country as his chief strategist.

36. His solution to the threat of terrorism is to ban Muslims from entering the country.
In December, 2015, Trump issued this statement. "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” It is the first time any president ever proposed banning entry to the country based on religion.
After becoming president, Trump banned anyone coming from several mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Strangely, many of the countries targeted have not produced any terrorists who have attacked the US. Yet Saudi Arabia, which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, was not on the list.
37. He told is supporters to assault non-violent protesters at his rallies.

More than once during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump encouraged his supporters to physically assault non-violent protesters at his rallies. Here are a few Trump quotes from his rallies.
·         “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher folks.”
·         “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”
·         "Get him out of here. Knock the crap out of him would you? Seriously. I'll pay the legal fees."
Trump also suggested that "the 2nd Amendment people" might be able to stop Hillary Clinton if she wins the election.

38. Trump is quick to criticize just about anyone - except white supremacists.

After a group of neo-Nazis, KKK members, and Confederate flag supporters violently clashed with counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump refused to condemn the white supremacists. He actually defended them and said there were violent people on both sides and that there were many good people among the right wing protesters. After a few days he read a statement saying he opposed the KKK. Then the next day, he again defended the extremists.

39. He is rolling back civil rights for gay and transgender people.

Trump’s Justice Department intervened in a private civil rights lawsuit arguing that gay people are not protected by the ban on sex discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Without consulting with the Defense Department or Congressional leaders, Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

40. Trump routinely makes sexist remarks about women and insults their appearance.

About Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face... Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?
When a New York Times columnist wrote about Trump’s bankruptcies, he sent her a copy of her article with her picture circled and the words “the face of a dog” written across it.
In a Tweet he called Bette Midler: “an extremely unattractive woman”. About Rosie O’Donnell, “If I were running The View, I’d fire Rosie. I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired’”.
After Megyn Kelly asked him in a debate about his history of making sexist remarks about women, Trump proceeded to make sexist insults about her for months afterward, often calling her a "bimbo".
Trump has bragged about walking into beauty pageant dressing rooms unannounced as women were dressing. When some women confirmed that he did this, he then denied it.
During the Republican primaries, Trump posted an unflattering picture of Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, next to a glamour shot of his wife Melania saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

41. Trump insisted that a Federal judge should be removed from a case simply because of the Judge’s Mexican heritage.

When federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is of Mexican heritage, ruled against Donald Trump in a lawsuit regarding Trump University, Mr. Trump said Judge Curiel should be removed from the case because he was Mexican (although he was born in Indiana). Trump repeatedly cited Judge Curiel’s Mexican heritage as the reason why he should be removed from the case. When asked to explain how his remarks about Judge Curiel were not racist, Trump dodged the question over 20 times.

42. Trump has taken political debate to a new low with his petty insults and snide remarks.

We usually want the US president to be a statesman - someone who treats people with civility and respect. More than any other president in history, Trump engages in personal attacks, insulting people's appearance, ethnic background or physical handicap. He mocked a handicapped reporter, claimed Ted Cruz’ father was linked to the Kennedy assassination, insulted the parents of a dead US soldier, and ridiculed John McCain’s military service saying “I like people who don’t get captured”. He uses nicknames like “lying Ted”, “little Marco”, “low energy Jeb” and “crooked Hillary”.
Trump uses these endless insults as a substitute for real debate because he's not capable of engaging in a meaningful discussion of the issues.

43. Trump’s complete lack of useful experience is hurting the country
Every president before Trump either had military experience like Washington, Grant or Eisenhower or they had experience in state or federal government. Donald Trump has no history of military service and no experience in governing or legislating. He claimed that his background as a successful businessman qualified him to be president but he refused to release the most useful information to evaluate his success as a businessman – his tax returns.

44. He refuses to take the time to learn what he needs to know to be president.
During the campaign, Trump demonstrated an appalling lack of knowledge about the topics being discussed and often didn’t understand the question. He didn’t know the names of foreign leaders or the names of many Islamic militant groups, didn’t know that Russia had invaded Ukraine. He complained that any questions asking for specific information are “gotcha questions”.
When asked a question about our nuclear triad, Trump didn’t know what that meant and still couldn’t answer after the questioner explained it to him.
Trump said that he would learn about all of that after he became president. Sadly, his ignorance continued into his presidency. After the election, he even refused to attend most of his daily national security briefings.
In the summer of 2017, his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, frustrated with Trump’s lack of knowledge about urgent matters, called Trump a “moron” in front of other cabinet members. When asked about this, Tillerson has not denied it.

45. He possesses none of the qualities we usually demand from a president.
At the very least, we expect our president to be tactful, civil and diplomatic, to be gracious, even when dealing with political opponents. We expect him to fully understand the issues and the way government works; to show humility and accept criticism gracefully so he can learn from his mistakes. We expect him to conduct himself like a gentleman. Donald Trump constantly fails on every one of these levels.


46. He has made America a laughingstock to the rest of the world.
His obsessive bragging caused the entire United Nations General Assembly to burst out laughing during his speech after he said “We’ve accomplished more than any other administration in the history of our country.”

47. He made a fortune by bankrupting his casinos and walking away with his investor’s money.

·         Link - How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Casinos, but Still Earned Millions - The New York Times
Trump bragged that declaring bankruptcy was a smart business move that enabled him to make a fortune. When Trump declared bankruptcy, he closed down his casinos, put hundreds of people out of work, defaulted on his debts to contractors and suppliers

48. Trump’s charity made an illegal payoff to a politician and then lied about it on their taxes.

The Trump Foundation illegally made a $25,000 contribution to the Florida Attorney General who was investigating Trump’s fake University. To cover up the illegal payment, the Trump Foundation falsely reported the $25,000 contribution on their taxes, claiming that it went to a charity in Kansas which, in fact, never received any money from them.

49. Trump violated anti-trust laws during a hostile takeover of a rival casino.
The Federal Trade Commission said Trump violated the law by using illegal methods to try to take over a competitor’s casino business. Ultimately, Trump had to pay a $750,000 penalty for violating anti-trust laws

50. Trump is violating ethics standards and profiting greatly from his presidency.
·         Before taking office, most new presidents put their investments into a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest. Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the US Office of Government Ethics could not get President Trump to divest his business interests to avoid such conflicts. Shaub ultimately resigned over Trump's ethics violations and conflicts of interest.
Trump has, in fact, profited greatly from his presidency. He doubled the dues for his Mar-a-Lago resort and doubled his profits at Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, DC. During his presidential campaign, he charged the campaign for using his airplane and Trump Tower, making huge profits on each.

Summary
Don't take my word for any of this. Every fact above can be independently verified, and I encourage you to do so. You may have noticed that many of these facts have little to do with Trump’s policies or political views. Trump’s unfitness for the presidency transcends political ideology. His tenuous mental state, divisiveness, total lack of qualifications for the job, his personal corruption, his constant and obvious lies, and his vulgar, obnoxious personality make him the most horribly unqualified person for the presidency in history.