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Policy Prescriptions: Trump and Clinton on transparency

By on October 25, 2016

By Steve Peoples

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have both broken from tradition during their campaigns for president by sharing less information with the public than did their predecessors, although the Democratic nominee is more forthcoming than her Republican rival.

Both candidates are secretive when it comes to fundraising. They have also blocked the complete implementation of a “protective pool” of traveling reporters who follow their every movement, Trump more so than Clinton, leaving the public with little idea of where they are at times.

(L-R) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands after the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.  The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(L-R) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands after the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump has also has refused to release his tax returns, becoming the first presidential nominee from a major party to do so in four decades. The Republican nominee has also held fewer press conferences as Election Day nears, at a time when Clinton has started speaking regularly with reporters.

Here is a summary of their records when it comes to issues of transparency:



CLINTON: She has publicly released her returns for every year dating to 1977. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, earned $10.6 million last year and had a federal tax rate of 34.2 percent. Clinton’s campaign also released 10 years of returns from her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, and his wife, Anne Holton.

TRUMP: He has refused to release any of his tax returns, saying he will do so only after a “routine audit” by the Internal Revenue Service is complete. The IRS has said Trump is free to release them. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has released a decade worth of his tax records.

Trump has released a personal financial disclosure, as required by law, which outlines many of his assets and net worth. The disclosure offers only a partial picture of his assets, however, and does not reveal his effective tax rate, what kind of taxes he has paid or his charitable contributions.



TRUMP: Despite railing against political donors, Trump has maintained an active fundraising schedule since becoming the Republican nominee. But it’s unclear exactly where he’s going, whom he’s meeting with and what he’s telling them – Trump has refused to allow journalists inside any of his fundraising events. He’s also refused to release a post-event rundown of basic details, such as location, the number of attendees and the amount raised.

Trump has also refused to release the names of his bundlers, who are fundraisers who collect donations from other supporters.

CLINTON: With a handful of exceptions, Clinton has refused to open her fundraisers to journalists. Since announcing her presidential bid in April 2015, Clinton has held more than 300 fundraising events. Fewer than 10 have been open to any news coverage.

Read more: Speech transcripts show Clinton avoided blaming Wall Street

The decision marks a break with the Democrat she hopes to succeed. Since his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama has allowed reporters traveling with him to witness his remarks at the start of such events. While reporters are escorted out before the juicier Q&A, the president’s approach offers at least a limited measure of accountability that some fear may disappear when Clinton or Trump moves into the White House.

Unlike Trump, Clinton’s campaign does provide post-event details and posts online a list of her bundlers.



CLINTON: During the primary campaign, she did not hold a news conference for more than nine months, although she did hundreds of one-on-one interviews. After Labor Day, Clinton began speaking with her traveling press corps more regularly, often several times a week. She’s also made a number of appearances on comedy shows, web outlets and other less traditional media.

TRUMP: Trump held press conferences on a regular basis until he accepted his party’s presidential nomination at the national convention in late July. Since then, he has held only one. Trump often speaks to local reporters before rallies, although the conversations are generally short, and does regular one-one-one interviews with friendly hosts on Fox News Channel. Additionally, he answered questions from reporters in the “spin room” after the first presidential debate.



TRUMP: He has refused to accommodate a protective pool, a practice used at the White House and with past presidential nominees that allows a handful of reporters to be as close as possible at all times. Trump also does not travel on the same plane as reporters. His campaign organizes a “chase plane” for the media – paid for by the media – that often follows Trump’s plane to and from public campaign events. Reporters are sometimes in his motorcade as well. But there are often long stretches in which reporters who pay to travel with Trump’s campaign do not know where he is.

CLINTON: Reporters began traveling on Clinton’s campaign plane after Labor Day. She’s partially accommodated a protective pool, allowing two vans of reporters to travel in her motorcade with her to fundraisers and other closed events. But she doesn’t always include them in her movements.

Read more: FACT CHECK: Trump, Clinton and their Debate Claims

In the days before the presidential debates, when Clinton was camped out near her home in Westchester, New York, reporters had little knowledge of her exact whereabouts. In September, she abruptly left a 9/11 memorial ceremony without notification after falling ill. Video later circulated on social media showed her stumbling and staggering as she got into her van. It took about 90 minutes for aides to inform reporters of her location at her daughter Chelsea’s midtown Manhattan apartment.

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