Medical records, tax returns and emails: Nothing is private when running for office

Jonathan Benyarko

election-2016By the end of the 19th century, U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis was already thinking about a new concept in American law — privacy, what he called “the right to be left alone.” While not explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, some amendments provide some protections.

But more than 130 years ago, no justice, Supreme Court or otherwise, could have predicted the information society so common today or the desire for citizens to know more and more about the private lives of their elected leaders, particularly candidates for president of the United States.

Mirroring national polls, students’ satisfaction with the presidential candidates shows that 47.9 percent of  305 students were very dissatisfied and 7.28 percent were very satisfied, 7.7 percent fairly satisfied, 23 percent fairly dissatisfied and 14.2 percent were neutral. And they wanted to know more about the candidates.

Grace Erilibe, pre-med junior | “Nothing should be private when it comes to governing a country. As a presidential candidate and a potential American president, candidates should have nothing to hide from the public if they are fit for presidency. Transparency is a must.”

Miriam Boateng, a graduate in clinical psychology | “If there is no constitution that legally obliges them to release personal information, then I think they have the choice to keep such information or disclose them without being chastised.”

However, not all students agree that presidential candidates have the same rights as all other citizens or even if they do have the same rights, they have other obligations to be more transparent with their actions.


aResults from the political poll shows that 58.6 percent of  261 student responses show that students agree to a president having the same rights as every citizen to keep his or her medical records private while the rest 41.4 percent believe that a president should publicly release all medical information that might affect his or her ability to serve as president.

“Current health status is very different from someone’s history of medical records, and that is what we need to remember,” said Linda Veazy, associate professor of political science. “It is interesting that people have discussed Hillary’s records. We actually know a bit about her health but we know nothing about Trump’s health. I don’t think we have ever received someone’s full life history of their medical records. In general counts, we’ve made the effort to basically review or at least release their basic medical history, so we can have an idea of their health.”

Asia Kuna, international studies sophomore | “I don’t think any presidential candidate should be forced to release their medical records because their health doesn’t reflect their leadership abilities. Trump has to release his tax returns as proof that he pays his tax. We don’t want a president who cheats his own system of government.”      

Luke Sanders, psychology junior | “I believe anything medical is confidential. A presidential candidate should not be forced to release his or her medical records to the public unless their mental state is being questioned, then he or she can release medical records to prove otherwise.”

Lovella Winston, marketing junior | “A presidential candidate’s medical record is not really a concern to some of us like his or her commitment to the nation. I will rather choose to know if a candidate is worthy enough to govern a country than healthy enough to govern a country.”

Marisa Idowu, nursing senior | “Is it a bad thing to know about a president’s health condition?, I do not believe so. Medical records of presidential candidates should be released to the public as proof to show whether or not they are fit to run the nation.”

Dareem Antoine, student assistant, office of international services | “People should have some level of right to privacy even if they hold high political positions.”



Every Democratic or Republican candidate for president has released his personal tax returns for the past four decades. This includes Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and Trump’s own running mate Mike Pence who recently made public 10 years of his tax returns. And numerous media outlets have reported that pieces of returns they have been able to obtain showed Trump could have avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades.

Steve Garrison, chair and associate professor of political science, said, “There’s also federal money that goes to candidates like the conventions, campaigns and primaries. The fact that they are receiving the money from the federal government at least warrants the idea that maybe we might need to put more legal strength behind them releasing tax returns.”

Veazy also thinks that the tax returns are more important affairs because they give a lot of insight into campaigns and into candidates and it is a great way to fact check information and that is one of the reasons why candidates have a tradition of giving them.

“It’s been a tradition since Nixon that presidential candidates release all of their tax returns,” Veazy added. “So basically, this means that Donald Trump is the first presidential candidate in a very long time who has not released his tax returns.”

 Larissa Kankam, nursing junior | “I do not see how a person can rule with integrity if transparency is a hard subject for them. If there is nothing to hide, a presidential candidate shouldn’t be hesitant to provide basic information to the public. Trump should release his tax returns to the public. It should not be much of a big deal especially when the question is crucial in a life changing situation as this.”

Mercy Riaro, nursing senior | “Hillary Clinton emails should be let out to the public, I believe it is a matter of national security and much seriousness should be put into revealing what contents and persons involved. It should not be much of an issue if there is nothing to keep from the people of America.” 


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had Lovella Winston’s name spelled incorrectly. The Wichitan regrets the error.