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Understanding 'Quid Pro Quo'

Now that I’ve finally recovered from all the political reporting from last week, there is one topic I wanted to write about as it’s rather serious – quid pro quo. According to the New York Times, “quid pro quo” — Latin for ‘something for something’ — is a legal phrase describing an arrangement where you give someone something they want, but only if that person gives you what you want.”

Last week, President Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, when asked about Trump wanting a quid pro quo from Ukraine before releasing approved military aid said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” Really? And you didn’t know that was an impeachable offense?


When I joined town council, I attended a class designed to teach those of us new to public service what we can and cannot do. And we absolutely cannot participate in any quid pro quo arrangements. Whether you are elected to a position or hold a government job, carrying on a quid pro quo arrangement with anyone or any company is cause for dismissal.


The second time I learned about this phrase was when I was running my own business. For a time, I had a male partner, a likable guy who was very good at PR. He was great at helping me with my golf game, a sport I truly miss, but most importantly he taught me the way men think about business. I’ve often wondered if I should offer a class for businesswomen based on what I have learned. One topic would be on quid pro quo, another on loyalty - a topic for another blog.


A large number of businessmen today, even those who might be considered ethical deem quid pro quo a normal part of business. And I can attest to this. Which brings us back to Trump and the overall problem of businesspeople in government positions. To do the job well you generally have to learn a new set of skills and values. It’s simply not the same game. And that’s why putting someone in the highest office, as his first government job, who lacks any business ethics will not become the leader you want unless he is willing to change for the job. I believe there might be people out there still waiting for Trump to become presidential. It’s not going to happen. He told everyone that. He believes his way is the right way. And that successful business strategies should be used in government. Not only is that wrong, it’s often illegal.