Transparency, anyone?

The truth is important, for its own sake and to advance intelligent decision making. It is impossible for the governed to give informed consent about anything if important information is hidden.   Those who don’t know all the facts can’t decide anything knowingly, can’t meaningfully consent to anything. 

Would it have hurt a presidential candidate if the voters knew he paid off a porn actress and a Playboy model to keep quiet about having sex with him while he was married to his third wife?   We’ll never know, but keeping that damaging information secret certainly didn’t hurt him in the polls.  The only person who paid any price for the crime of using campaign funds to buy the silence of hired adulterous sex companions was the henchman who did some time in jail carrying out his Evangelical Christian-endorsed master’s wishes for absolute secrecy.   

The best policy for those who would hide shameful or otherwise damaging things, it appears, is simply not to be transparent.  It doesn’t take a dictator to realize this.   Here’s an example from the recently elected DA of NY County, Alvin Bragg.   He decided he didn’t want to risk being the first to criminally prosecute Donald Trump, it was too dangerous for him, or for whatever his reasons are.  He kept everything nice and opaque as he brazened his way through quietly dropping the case.

His predecessor, a fairly cowardly (or just compromised) man named Cyrus Vance, Jr. hired two experienced, specialized lead prosecutors to try Donald Trump for his regular, fraudulent, wildly changing valuations of his properties.  Vance convened a criminal grand jury, put the crack legal team in place to collect the evidenve and then announced he would not run for reelection as Manhattan DA.  His successor, Alvin Bragg, appeared to be dragging his feet on the criminal prosecution of Trump’s business empire. The grand jury hadn’t heard testimony for weeks, there was rumbling as the gathering case suddenly stood still.  Then the two top Trump prosecutors resigned.   

Bragg immediately announced that his criminal probe was going forward, that the two lead prosecutors who’d resigned would be immediately replaced by a lawyer who had defended many powerful white collar defendants in Trump’s position.  In response to requests for the resignation letters, he claimed he could not release them because they contained information that might compromise the prosecution of Trump.   A ridiculous claim, since no experienced prosecutor would include compromising info in a resignation letter.   Bragg refused to release the letters, but he appeared to be letting the grand jury’s term expire, quietly running out the game clock, ending the prosecution before an indictment could be filed.  In this case, appearance was soon confirmed as reality.

Eventually things come out.  Sometimes it is decades later, but in this case, only a few weeks.   The NY Times published Mark Pomerantz’s resignation letter yesterday.  It reads, in part:

As you know from our recent conversations and presentations, I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations of the Penal Law in connection with the preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition. His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people. The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did. . .

. . .You have reached the decision not to go forward with the grand jury presentation and not to seek criminal charges at the present time. The investigation has been suspended indefinitely. Of course, that is your decision to make. I do not question your authority to make it, and I accept that you have made it sincerely. However, a decision made in good faith may nevertheless be wrong. I believe that your decision not to prosecute Donald Trump now, and on the existing record, is misguided and completely contrary to the public interest. I therefore cannot continue in my current position. . .

. . . To the extent you have raised issues as to the legal and factual sufficiency of our case and the likelihood that a prosecution would succeed, I and others have advised you that we have evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and we believe that the prosecution would prevail if charges were brought and the matter were tried to an impartial jury. No case is perfect. Whatever the risks of bringing the case may be, I am convinced that a failure to prosecute will pose much greater risks in terms of public confidence in the fair administration of justice. As I have suggested to you, respect for the rule of law, and the need to reinforce the bedrock proposition that “no man is above the law,” require that this prosecution be brought even if a conviction is not certain.


Jesus, no wonder Bragg tried to keep the letter secret.  It questioned his good faith belief that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute (while refusing to call further witnesses for even more grand jury evidence) and makes a pretty good argument for that questioning.   Bragg openly saying he had decided it was too risky (for his career) to prosecute Trump, and fail, would not have flown, virtually no American politician would have done that.  So, you do next best thing — tell a few lies, keep everything nice and opaque and count on the two second attention span of overwhelmed consumer/citizens who will soon turn their shattered attention to the next titillating outrage.  It happens every few seconds in our frantic 24/7 news cycle.  No worries.  I’m just sorry I wasted my vote on this lying sack o’ non-transparency.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s