If anyone doubts that the 2016 campaign has started, this report on Hillary Clinton’s years in the US Senate provides all the evidence needed. Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen found out that taxpayers paid over $225,000 for Clinton’s private-jet travel during her eight years representing New York, sometimes for the use of corporate jets from the kind of venture capital firms that Democrats derided in the 2012 campaign about Mitt Romney. It’s how Allen got this information that may be more interesting (via Newsalert):
Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate, sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs.
Clinton, 67, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, reported the travel in official filings with the Senate. The records were provided to Bloomberg News by a Republican operative.
Some of the companies whose planes she used included Coca-Cola Co., Citigroup Inc. and Saban Capital Group Inc.
The data was “provided … by a Republican operative.” One has to assume that oppo research has been going on against Hillary for the past couple of years, and maybe this nugget has been sitting in a vault since 2008, just in case she beat Barack Obama. What makes this interesting is how early the GOP has begun to work on Hillary Clinton. Her team has just made it clear that they don’t want to jump into the race officially until summer, likely to avoid getting beaten up by this very kind of oppo research. Perhaps this has been timed specifically in response to that delay, and to force Hillary to fight a general election campaign 16 months earlier than the calendar would dictate.
Alternately, it might be aimed at forcing Hillary into a costly primary. Allen focuses on Romney’s attacks on Hillary, but the data looks more like a Batsignal to progressives in the Democratic Party, and perhaps especially to Elizabeth Warren and her class-warfare schtick. All three of the companies mentioned in the excerpt brings attention to her tight relationship with corporate America, but also to particular points of outrage on the Left. Coca-Cola gets slammed for both its profits and its role in cultural dominance abroad, but it’s the least provocative of the three in this case. Citigroup is one of the “too big to fail” banks that managed to not just survive the financial-industry crash but come out stronger, thanks to government intervention, while Saban Capital Group is at least in the same general field as Romney’s demonized Bain Capital — and also controls Univision, the Spanish-language news broadcaster. Haim Saban himself is a big Hillary Clinton backer.
Senate rules do not proscribe using private jet flights at taxpayer expense, nor doing so with corporate aircraft, as long as the latter is properly reimbursed and does not create any other conflicts of interest. Given that Hillary Clinton’s tenure in the Senate was singularly lacking in accomplishment, the chance of a conflict of interest arising is slim, to say the least. This dovetails into another line of attack on her time as Secretary of State, also aired by Romney and Carly Fiorina too, that her record of accomplishment at State consists entirely of earning frequent-flier miles. Even without breaking any rules, the total bill of $225,000 for private jets makes Hillary look as though she considers herself royalty — and one owed a coronation by the same taxpayers. The benefits of that attack will be shared widely, assuming any Democrats step up to claim their portion.