Quotes of the day

Campaign-finance watchdogs on Friday called for the Clinton Foundation to change its policies in the wake of new revelations about donations to the Clinton Foundation around the time that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state…

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, said the foundation should also stop accepting money from foreign individuals, calling the flow of foreign cash to the foundation an “ongoing serious problem.”

“When you have foreign money going to a foundation that is associated with the Clintons … it creates the appearance and the opportunity for influence buying and selling,” he said. “Now, they can argue they’re not doing any of that, but that kind of money creates opportunities that we in this country we have adopted rules to prevent…

Mr. Wertheimer said he was skeptical of Mrs. Clinton’s commitment to reform. “I am pleased that she has adopted campaign-finance reform as one of the four pillars of her campaign,” he said. “On the other hand, we have a long history where presidents have made similar commitment and never met them. Hillary Clinton will need to do far more to explain her commitment on campaign finance reform in order for it to be considered a serious commitment in the event she’s elected.”


The idea that the chief diplomatic officer of the United States is open for business and foreign nations, foreign businesses and foreign citizens can write checks for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars both to her foundation or to her husband for speeches, which goes directly to her personal bank account, reflects a degree of corruption unprecedented in American politics

That she thought it was acceptable to effectively be on the payroll of foreign nations while she was ostensibly representing the United States of America reveals just how corrupt the culture in Washington has become. And I’ll make a final point—of course, Senate Democrats are circling the wagons around her. Apparently, in their view, it’s perfectly fine for the Secretary of State to be on direct deposit from major foreign interests.

Every Senate Democrat should be forced to answer the question: Is it okay for the Secretary of State to receive millions of dollars from foreign nations both through a charitable foundation and into her personal bank account through checks written directly to her husband for brief speeches that yielded $500,000 a pop?


The qualities of an effective presidency do not seem to transfer onto a post-presidency. Jimmy Carter was an ineffective president who became an exemplary post-president. Bill Clinton appears to be the reverse. All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy…

When you are a power couple consisting of a former president and a current secretary of State and likely presidential candidate, you have the ability to raise a lot of money for charitable purposes that can do a lot of good. But some of the potential sources of donations will be looking to get something in return for their money other than moral satisfaction or the chance to hobnob with celebrities. Some of them want preferential treatment from the State Department, and others want access to a potential future Clinton administration. To run a private operation where Bill Clinton will deliver a speech for a (huge) fee and a charity that raises money from some of the same clients is a difficult situation to navigate. To overlay that fraught situation onto Hillary’s ongoing and likely future government service makes it all much harder.

And yet the Clintons paid little to no attention to this problem.


Right about the time Drudge Report splashed a link to Jonathan Chait’s latest column across its homepage, I got a g-chat from a Democratic strategist: “This is a big deal,” he wrote. “My gut tells me it elevates this story to something bigger and more needing of her response. I think this might take away the chance of this ordeal being seen as a partisan witch hunt.”…

“The Clintons’ charitable initiatives were a kind of quasi-government run by themselves, which was staffed by their own loyalists and made up the rules as it went along,” Chait concludes. “Their experience running the actual government, with its formal accountability and disclosure, went reasonably well. Their experience running their own privatized mini-state has been a fiasco.”

In the eyes of my Democratic strategist, this damning critique “gives a VERY strong retort to the argument that the New Yorker said they were going to push… which is that this is a Fox News/Koch brothers-pushed story.”

“Now one of the biggest liberal voices at a big liberal mag is calling them out in the harshest terms possible makes that argument nul and void,” he wrote.


The story goes to the heart of several serious, growing vulnerabilities that Clinton will be facing, sooner or later. First, the perception of foreign entities paying the Clinton Foundation and later getting favorable treatment from the State Department raises the spectre of foreign governments buying access at the highest levels of the U.S. government—a politically potent allegation should any connection be proven. The fact that Clinton reportedly concealed the company’s donations to the foundation from the Obama administration only raises the reason for suspicion.

Second, it’s an unwelcome reminder that as secretary of State, Clinton viewed Russia as a trustworthy partner and didn’t see any national security consequences as a result of the transaction. Republicans will be raising questions about her foreign policy judgment on numerous hot spots that are currently deteriorating, including Libya, Ukraine, and Iran.

Third, it raises the question of what other actions she took as secretary of State that would have the consequence of enriching her family through the Clinton Foundation. Former President Bill Clinton made a half-million speaking to a Russian investment bank promoting the mining company’s stock shortly after the corporate takeover. That badly threatens to undermine her positioning as a populist fighter for the “everyday” American—an image her campaign has been assiduously pushing with her low-key launch.

Finally, her evasive answers in dealing with the controversy, refusing to address the specifics of the reporting and using her campaign team to attack the messenger(s) shows both how serious the allegations are, and how unprepared she is for the scrutiny.


Chapter One: “Pick Your Spots.” The Clintons flourish in that hazy interface between legal and lawless. Their dealings always stink, but are rarely blatantly or provably (or traceably) corrupt. Consider this week’s news. Yes, tons of donor cash flowed to the Clinton Foundation at the same time Mrs. Clinton’s State Department was greenlighting deals helping those donors. But prove there was a quid pro quo! The Clintons dare you.

They know you likely can’t, since Chapter Two is “Limit Those Paper Trails.” Remember those “misplaced” 1990s documents, but also reread the 2000 report from the House Committee on Government Reform titled “The Failure to Produce [Clinton] White House E-Mails: Threats, Obstruction and Unanswered Questions.” The Clintons learned it took effort to keep documents secret. These days, they make sure there are no documents at all. (Mrs. Clinton, which emails would you like us to delete? Just search for key words “yoga,” “wedding” and “uranium.”)

Chapter Three: “Remember, the Press Has ADD.” Pixar’s “Up” features Dug, a cute dog with a serious attention problem (“squirrel!!!”). This is how the Clintons view the media. Pettable. Unfocused. When caught, the Clinton communications team will issue lofty dismissals—calling charges baseless or old news—and wait for the press to believe it. If it doesn’t, Team Clinton will hold one press conference—a la Mrs. Clinton’s email event—and wait for the media to call the case closed. If it doesn’t, they will change the subject (Hillary is running for president! Squirrel!!!) and wait for the press to lose interest. It often does.

Still, if all else fails, there is Chapter Four: “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”—or VRWC. Mrs. Clinton’s conspiracy shtick is today a bit of a joke, but it doesn’t make it any less effective. It works to cast any serious investigation of Clinton behavior as a partisan witch hunt, and therefore illegitimate. And it does work.


Still, I suspect that the conclusion that this was all simply about payoffs probably misses the mark. Sure, the Clintons like money. That’s obvious. But the money is incidental to what’s really behind all of this: a mixture of entitlement and machine politics.

The Clintons are like the Tudors of the Ozarks. They believe they are royalty, but they also understand that even monarchs need friends. The Clinton Foundation is the perfect vehicle for their ambition. Like the medieval Catholic Church, it blurs the lines between ideals and interests. On the one hand, it does yeoman’s work in the Church of Liberal Dogoodery, but it also provides a conduit for business interests, foreign governments, academics, activists, and journalists to gain access to the imperial court-in-waiting.

Even if Hillary hadn’t conveniently wiped her servers clean, I suspect there wouldn’t be a lot of e-mails about quid-pro-quos. Such transactions aren’t made in the language of the bazaar, but in the lingua franca of loyalty, friendship, and noblesse oblige. Yes, Clinton Inc. needs money, but the money is likely seen more as tribute than bribery, a bit of coin offered up as a sign of loyalty to the coming Ozarkian Restoration — a restoration that may just have to wait for Chelsea.


It must be a pain to report all these donations to the IRS, especially the foreign ones, don’t you think?
Glad you asked. As it turns out, the Clinton Foundation didn’t report any foreign government donations for from 2010 to 2012, according to a Reuters review of the foundation’s tax returns. Following the revelations, the Clinton Foundation announced it would refile at least five years worth of tax documents to account for the millions in foreign government donations received during that period…

By the way, how does the Clinton Foundation spend all that money? Saving lives?
That’s what they say. But who really knows? Another review of the foundation’s tax documents found that the Clinton Foundation raised more than $500 million between 2009 and 2012, but spent only 15 percent of that money ($75 million) on grants to charitable organizations and causes. More than 25 percent ($135 million) went toward employee compensation, benefits, and travel expenses. The rest was classified as “other expenses,” whatever that means.

What does Hillary Clinton think of all this?
When asked about this during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week, Hillary dismissed the barrage of troubling revelations as mere “distractions and attacks.” You know, the sort of benign hysteria that every political candidate has to deal with. She has yet to personally weigh in on the latest barrage of troubling revelations.

Does any of this really matter? Hillary is still going to be our next president, isn’t she?
Yeah, probably.


Via the Free Beacon.


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