I know from personal experience that the people you surround yourself with can really have a great impact on your life. For example, I worked at a retail store in California. Now, this store had a policy that customers could only buy 49 items a day. This policy existed because bulk buyers from South America would come and buy hundreds of items on sale to resale them south of the border. The company wanted to minimize this practice as much as possible. The manager of the store I worked at figured out a way around this policy. He decided we would let as many bulk buyers come to the store and buy as much as they wanted.

We would task someone with ringing these purchases round the clock by breaking up all the items into $40-$50 increments to avoid being red flagged by the company. At first, I was hesitant about the whole thing, but I didn’t say anything. Over time, I didn’t feel bad at all. Our store was getting national recognition for our sales and praise for keeping our store organized. We could do it all! I was in the running for an award for best assistant manager and I was getting a lot of attention for my merchandising skills.

So much good was happening for us. What they didn’t know was we didn’t have to deal with problems most stores have to deal with because we were breaking that policy. We didn’t have to sensor hundreds of items saving tons of hours that we could devote to other things. We weren’t sitting on extra product that tends to gum up the backroom causing major organizational and merchandising problems. Our numbers were padded by the many sales we wouldn’t have otherwise had if we were following policy and turning away these bulk buyers. We wouldn’t tell new hires about the policy. Anyone who pointed it out would get scheduled in the evenings so they wouldn’t see what was happening.

The management team, myself included, lied to upper management to keep our ruse going. Eventually we were exposed. Someone on the team called an anonymous hotline detailing all the things that we were doing wrong. An extensive HR investigation ensued where I was interviewed multiple times about what was going on. When asked why I did this I remember answering, ‘I don’t know.’ That felt like the genuine answer at the time. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything horribly wrong. I sat there looking at all the documents they had with my name on them, my employee number all over stuff, emails I had written, lies I had told. I was so shocked at myself.

Clearly this was the wrong thing to do so why did I do it and why did it feel so easy? I was fully prepared to be fired when the district manager came to the store after the HR investigation wrapped. Turns out the manager said it was all his idea and he directed us to do it. He was fired and the rest of us were spared. Long story short, I was able to redeem myself and ended up having a very successful run at this company leading to greater opportunities.

Why did it feel so easy? Why didn’t I feel bad about it until I was faced with justice? It’s because I was immersed in a culture of corruption/wrongdoing. Looking back on this experience, I have come to realize that what they say is true. You can only be as good as those you surround yourself with. I was desensitized because the standard was low. I was living in a culture where wrongdoing wasn’t a big deal. ‘Everybody’s doing it’, ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ kind of thing. Part of what made it possible was keeping people with higher standards away. It was also keeping people that you trust to keep their mouths shut close by.

Short term positive outcomes justified what we were doing. It even made it feel good. Sure, there are times that your own standards can raise that of your friends, but it seems so much easier to be dragged down rather than pulled up. Doing the right thing often times feels harder than going with the flow. Plus, there are down sides. There are plenty of examples of whistle-blowers that get shamed or disparaged. The idea that a tattletale is bad is ingrained in us from a very young age. Doesn’t this mentality keep a culture of corruption and wrongdoing going?

These are a few of the reasons why I believe it is essential to teach my sons the importance of keeping yourself surrounded with people that hold similar values. Not same religion or same life, but same values. One of which is standing up for what is right even when it is hard.

Because I believe all this to be true, I can’t help but believe that the current president and his administration are rotten to the core. The best way for me to make my point is to compile a list of people that currently surround the president or spent many years with him.

  • Michael Cohen – (personal lawyer/friend for at least 10 years) pleaded guilty to 8 crimes, two of which he said was done ‘in coordination and at the direction’ of Donald Trump
  • Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka Trump – (kids) Donald Trump Foundation is currently being sued by the New York AG for multiple violations on how donated money was used.
  • Jared Kushner – (son-in-law) routinely fakes documents in his business. Charles Kushner, Jared’s dad, served time in prison for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering. The entire Kushner business is really shady and is worth reading about.
  • Paul Manafort – (campaign manager) found guilty by a jury of our peers on 8 counts.
  • Chris Collins – (House Rep and first endorser of Trump) indicted on insider trading charges
  • Duncan Hunter – (House Rep and second endorser of Trump) charged with mishandling of campaign funds.
  • Jeff Sessions – (current AG and third endorser of Trump) enforces policies that result in kids in cages and has routinely lied about his contacts with Russian officials
  • Elliott Broidy – (friend and fellow client of Michael Cohen) paid women for silence through Cohen and is currently under federal investigation for selling influence with Trump administration.
  • Mike Flynn – (National Security Advisor for campaign/White House) pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI
  • Stephen Miller – (advisor to the President) his own family denounced his policies on race and immigration. He is definitely worth learning more about.
  • Jim Jordan – (House Rep, has a full endorsement from Trump to be the next Speaker of the House) currently being interviewed in an investigation at OSU for helping to cover up widespread sexual abuse
  • Roger Ailes – (Friend/role model) was removed from Fox News after multiple allegations of sexual abuse surfaced. He was the CEO of Fox News.
  • Scott Pruitt – (former EPA director appointed by Trump) was the subject of at least 12 congressional investigations into his spending of taxpayer dollars and conduct. He has resigned.
  • Bill Shine – (White House Communications director) played a role in covering up Roger Ailes crimes at Fox News.
  • Rob Porter – (former Staff Secretary for the President) credibly accused of domestic abuse by multiple wives
  • George Papadopoulos – (advisor on campaign) pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI
  • Carter Page – (foreign policy advisor to the campaign) under FBI surveillance for years, even prior to the campaign
  • Sean Hannity – (friend and fellow client of Michael Cohen) constantly lies and promotes conspiracy theories
  • David J. Pecker – (longtime friend) CEO of media company that Michael Cohen mentioned in court during his guilty plea

Of course I could continue listing more people depending on what part of Trump’s life you want to look at. I could include people who probably started with good intentions, as I did, and are now complicit, liars, whatever you want to call them. My overall point in listing all these people is that he surrounds himself with people that lie, cheat the system and knowingly hurt other people. He berates people on Twitter that call for a higher standard. He ‘feels sad’ for people that get caught. He thinks it’s ‘unfair’ when people are held accountable. His behavior and his tweets have all the hallmarks of a culture of corruption, just like the one I worked in. It is laughable to think that anyone around him has us, the people of the United States, first and foremost on their minds. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ The people listed here are the apples. I haven’t even begun to address the conduct of the tree, nor will I since that could fill an entire book.

Yesterday was an eye-opening, shocking display of events which further proves that this upcoming election is vital for the health of our country. We constantly rag on Congressman and elected officials for not doing their job and being corrupt. Guess what? We, the people, aren’t doing our job! Only one third of the nation votes and that has lead us to this point. We must vote in every election. We must vote out the self serving people in our government. Furthermore, most the people that create the laws and policies that govern our lives are appointed by the people that we choose. It is critical to elect people that choose to surround themselves with good, honest people. We are seeing the results of the electorate’s complacency right now. There’s still time to redeem ourselves and it has to start with the midterm elections in November. It’s the people’s job to clean up Washington. Learn about your candidates, hold them to a higher standard and vote. Let’s do this!

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s more info from a wide range of outlets:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/21/michael-cohen-striking-deal-with-federal-prosecutors.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37369515

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/1/17053398/jared-kushner-scandals-russia-clearance-loans

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/paul-manafort-trial-jury/index.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-congressman-chris-collins-is-arrested-on-insider-trading-charges-1533736677

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/duncan-hunter-and-wife-indicted-grand-jury-campaign-finance-violations/

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-announces-zero-tolerance-policy-criminal-illegal-entry

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elliott-broidy-under-investigation-doj_us_5b76f685e4b0a5b1febae11a

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/01/us/politics/michael-flynn-guilty-russia-investigation.html

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/08/13/stephen-miller-is-an-immigration-hypocrite-i-know-because-im-his-uncle-219351

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2018/07/18/jim-jordan-interviewed-with-perkins-coie-lawyers-as-part-of-ohio-state-investigation/?utm_term=.1816e4a38cdf

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/roger-ailes-fox-news-final-days

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/here-s-a-scorecard-of-the-scott-pruitt-investigations-quicktake

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900027977/from-ailes-to-trump-meet-bill-shine-trump-s-new-image-man.html

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/feb/14/timeline-rob-porter-domestic-abuse-and-white-house/

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/george-papadopoulos/544346/

https://www.businessinsider.com/carter-page-nunes-memo-2018-2

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/05/14/donald-trump-sean-hannity-speak-nearly-every-weeknight-report/607595002/

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-a-playboy-model-and-a-system-for-concealing-infidelity-national-enquirer-karen-mcdougal

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