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Trump Asks Big Donors for Afghanistan Plan That’ll Line Their Pockets

July 11, 2017 | Adam Smith

President Donald Trump continues to rely on big donors and special interests for policy proposals, recently asking defense contractors who donated to his campaign to develop plans for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. The two men, Erik Prince and Stephen Feinberg, could both see financial reward if their plans were implemented, raising “a host of ethical issues,” the New York Times reported, because the proposed plans rely on more contractors instead of U.S. troops.

“If Mr. Trump opted to use more contractors and fewer troops, it could also enrich DynCorp, which has already been paid $2.5 billion by the State Department for its work in the country, mainly training the Afghan police force,” the Times noted. “Mr. Feinberg controls DynCorp through Cerberus Capital Management, a firm he co-founded in 1992.”

Prince founded the private security firm Blackwater and has advocated for using private military units in place of departing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Feinberg and his wife donated $2.2 million to elect Trump in 2016. That includes nearly $1.5 million to the Rebuilding America Now super PAC that worked to elect Trump and, along with his wife, $678,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee.

Prince, who previously founded and served as chairman of security firm Blackwater, donated $250,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee and a super PAC working to support him. That total includes $150,000 to a Trump-alined super PAC and $2,700 directly to Trumps’ campaign. His sister is Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

The Times reported that, for now, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “declined to include the outside strategies in a review of Afghanistan policy,” but should they have even been sought out in the first place? Would they have if they had not funneled so much money into Trump’s campaign?

Examples like these and questionable influence of big donors and corporate interests in our policy-making process will continue as long as elected officials are required to spend so much time raising money from the wealthy elite. If we don’t, the cycle will continue of donors bankrolling candidates, so they have the ear of politicians to ask for handouts (that allow them to pour more money into campaigns).

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.