Remember back in 2010, when the big red midterm wave was building and Democrats got desperate for a theme to run on? Remember what they ended up settling on, for a few weeks at least? It was “secret foreign money in politics,” specifically the Chamber of Commerce’s supposed habit of taking money from international donors, whose names it wasn’t required to disclose, and then plowing that money into attack ads against Democrats. It was a baseless smear, a political “Hail Mary” from a party facing an unholy landslide, but you can understand why Democrats thought it might play with voters. The idea of foreigners throwing wads of cash at American power brokers to steer national policy their way is disturbing, an especially corrupt form of influence peddling.
Five years later, here’s how Democrats feel about foreign money affecting U.S. policy now.
There are in fact 1,100 undisclosed donors to the Clinton Foundation, Giustra says, most of them non-U.S. residents who donated to CGEP [the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, a Canadian affiliate of the Clinton Foundation]. “All of the money that was raised by CGEP flowed through to the Clinton Foundation—every penny—and went to the [charitable] initiatives we identified,” he says.
The reason this is a politically explosive revelation is because the Clinton Foundation promised to disclose its donors as a condition of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state. Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Clinton Foundation signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Obama White House agreeing to reveal its contributors every year. The agreement stipulates that the “Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative” (as the charity was then known) is part of the Clinton Foundation and must follow “the same protocols.”…
[N]ot all CGEP’s big donors are Canadian. The Canada Revenue Agency—Canada’s IRS—requires charities to reveal whether they receive donations of more than $10,000 (Canadian) from people who are not Canadians, employed in the country, or carrying on business there. In both 2009 and 2010, CGEP filings show that it reported receiving such donations to Canadian authorities.
The reason we can’t reveal the donors’ names, claims Giustra, is that Canadian tax law bars us from doing so. But as you hopefully know by now, thanks to some good work by the Federalist that was later picked up by WaPo, that’s simply not true. Nothing in Canadian law bars a charity from disclosing the identity of donors in non-commercial transactions, something that Giustra and Hillary Clinton and their armies of lawyers presumably know. Which raises the question: Why haven’t the names been revealed?
The answer seems pretty obvious, says Sean Davis:
[F]or the past several years, the Clinton Foundation has basically been a foreign money-laundering operation. The scheme works like this: collect millions of dollars in foreign money, dump it into a foreign charity, pretend that the law prohibits you from ever disclosing the identities of those foreign donors to the foreign charity, then have the foreign charity bundle all the cash and send it to the Clinton Foundation. Then, when the time comes–whether it be a Clinton Foundation conference or a lavish Clinton Foundation trip overseas–make sure those individuals get some me-time w/ the Clintons…
The foreign-to-domestic laundering scheme satisfies a number of key Clinton objectives. First, it gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton total plausible deniability about the millions in foreign cash that were being funneled into her family’s non-profit coffers. She wasn’t on the board of CGEPartnership, and wasn’t even named to the board of the Clinton Foundation until 2013, so how could she have known about this? Second, it gave Hillary’s allies the ability to claim that wealthy foreign individuals were not sending cash to the Clinton Foundation.
How? Because they were sending cash to the Canadian CGEPartnership. And while Bill Clinton’s name is obviously in the organization’s name, he never actually served on its board while Hillary was Secretary of State. Instead, Clinton retained control of the organization by placing Bruce Lindsey on CGEPartnership’s board. Lindsey, a long-time Clinton confidant and adviser, currently serves as the chairman of the board of the Clinton Foundation. He was also the Clinton Foundation’s CEO for over a decade.
Makes sense. Foreign governments prefer to donate directly to the Clinton Foundation, since they like the publicity and can more plausibly deny a quid pro quo arrangement later (although not always), but if you were an individual who wanted to buy influence from a former president and current secretary of state and didn’t want people knowing about it, the obvious conduit was CGEP. You could make your “donation,” eventually receive a meeting with Bill or Hillary to ask for a favor, and no one would be able to connect the two. The result, in the words of the Sunlight Foundation: “It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.” At this point, between the e-mail server fiasco and the “charity” revelations (which may very well be linked), Hillary’s campaign increasingly feels like a lab experiment in how much corruption Democrats will tolerate in a candidate in the name of maximizing their odds of holding the White House. Result so far, given Biden’s and Elizabeth Warren’s reluctance to run: A lot.
Via the Free Beacon, here’s Chuck Todd marveling at the fact that the Clinton Foundation itself insists on continuing to receive donations from foreign donors even as Hillary campaigns for president. Any other candidate would pull the plug on that for fear of the appearance of impropriety, even if there’s no actual impropriety happening. With the Clintons, though, the appearance of impropriety is already baked in the cake. It’s part of their “brand.” Why turn down new money to appear a little cleaner when you’re already this dirty?