About This Project
The project, launched in November 2016, details hundreds of business entities connected to the First Family. At the Sunlight Foundation, we believe it is essential to understand these financial ties in order to identify when and how President Trump may be profiting from his status in the White House.
Other related projects have tracked spending by government officials and businesses at Trump-branded properties, provided a one-stop-shop for Trump Administration financial disclosures and geographically organized Trump’s business interests around the world. The Sunlight Foundation’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” is unique in its focus on how Trump’s business entities are connected, operating and making headlines.
Using the database, you can search for businesses, individuals and foreign governments with known ties to the First Family through business dealings or financial connections.
Users can search by business name and family member to read a summary description of the potential conflict and to find out its status (active or resolved). News stories related to many of the potential conflicts are catalogued. When available, each business entity’s ownership structure is outlined.
The core of the database was compiled from public records: mandatory financial disclosures submitted to the Office of Government Ethics by President Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Since the passage of the Ethics in Government Act in the wake of President Nixon’s Watergate scandal, all senior government officials have been required to disclose their financial interests publicly in this way. This applies to President Trump, as well as his daughter and son-in-law, both of whom hold senior adviser positions in the White House.
This required disclosure is unrelated to the disclosure of presidential candidates’ tax returns, which is not mandated by law. Every president since Harry Truman has voluntarily disclosed his tax returns, but President Trump so far has refused to do so. That lack of transparency renders the required financial disclosures all the more crucial to understanding President Trump’s financial interests, and whether or how they may be at odds with the interests of the American people.
Family members of government officials are not required to file such disclosures, although a spouse’s employment assets and income, as well as retirement accounts, are disclosed. This project relies on news coverage about other Trump family members to build the fullest picture possible of the First Family’s business and financial interests.
History of the Project
Sunlight began tracking President Trump’s reported conflicts of interest on November 28, 2016. On May 9, 2017, this list was re-published as a spreadsheet, expanded from dozens of business entities to hundreds.
Two months later, on July 7, 2017, the spreadsheet was updated again, incorporating President Trump’s financial disclosure on file with the Office of Government Ethics, as well as media reports from around the world. On September 18, 2017, the spreadsheet was split, breaking out and adding potential conflicts of interest for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, and potential conflicts for Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Data from the financial disclosures of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were incorporated with this update.
On Feb. 2, 2018, the Sunlight Foundation launched a weekly round-up of news stories that highlight possible conflicts of interest and ethical violations by top White House officials. Any stories related to President Trump and his immediate family members’ business interests are catalogued in the database. To see the latest round-ups, click here.
On September 24, the Sunlight Foundation replaced the online spreadsheet with a searchable database that features expanded content: a summary description of potential conflicts of interest, a reverse-chronological accounting of news stories about many of the potential conflicts, and (when available) an outline of the ownership structure of each business entity.
For more information about the methodology used to create and maintain the database, click here.
This project is made possible thanks to funding from the Lodestar Foundation. The latest Sunlight reporting on these issues can be found here and you can search the database here. If you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking, email us to contribute your knowledge.