Petition, demands given to Toomey

December 16, 2016 GMT

A group of grassroots organizers hand-delivered a petition to Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) Center City office on Thursday, demanding he publicly urge President-elect Donald Trump to sever his business ties.

“Anybody who believes that Congress is going to hold this president accountable is fooling themselves,” said Alex Shepard, director of the Philadelphia Rootstrikers. “So the reality is that we have to be out in the streets, we have to petition our politicians, we have to be able to call on Trump to make a clean break from his loyalty to his biz so he can focus on his loyalty to the American people.”

Shepard was joined by State Rep. Mark Cohen and about 15 other protesters holding signs, including that read “Honk to tell Toomey Trump must DIVEST...#SellItAll,” outside of Toomey’s office at 1628 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Protest organizer and Neighborhood Networks volunteer Bo Dirnback explained, “Our rally is to call on Sen. Toomey to be the independent voice he claimed he was ... and to stand up and publicly declare that President-elect Trump should sell, divest all his business interests and put all of the proceeds in a blind trust.”

The petitioning protest took place on Thursday around the country in places like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Las Vegas and New York City. Many of the meet-ups, including the one in New York, convened at Trump-owned enterprises like New York’s Trump Tower.

Six groups organized and gathered the petitions, which amassed more than 500,000 signatures. Common Cause, Every Voice and Public Citizen created petitions demanding Trump sell his business and put his assets into a blind trust—one that even his children don’t have access to. CREDO Action and MoveOn petitions called on the House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz to launch a congressional investigation into Trump’s potential conflicts of interest.

Shepard’s organization Rootstrikers petitioned Congress to pass the Presidential Accountability Act, which would require Trump put his assets into a “true blind trust” prior to assuming the presidency.

Protests were organized to fall on the day the President-elect was supposed to hold a business-related conference, but that he later cancelled. During the press conference, Trump was supposed to detail how he would detach himself from his businesses.

Trump has come under heavy fire regarding his business ties and for flouting law and tradition when he let his daughter Ivanka Trump sit in on a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and when he spoke with the Taiwanese president despite America’s “One China” rule.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy,” Trump told Fox News, “but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Already, Trump appears to have used his presidential leverage to support his businesses.

“One example right now is that Trump badgered the Scottish government to cancel wind farms offshore in front of his luxury golf course because he said it destroys the view,” Dirnbach said.

In Nov., Trump met with British politician Nigel Farage and later admitted that the pair discussed the wind turbines that would interfere with view from Trump’s golf course resort.

“There are tremendous opportunities for bribery, both real and apparent, and that’s what the Emoluments Clause is,” Dirnbach said. “It’s against foreign corruption of our government officials.”

Cohen added, “We’ve never had a president with greater conflict of interest than Donald Trump.”