Back when Harry Truman left the White House, Congress worried that he and his family might end up in poverty. They created a presidential pension system to allow former chief executives to live comfortably in retirement. Bill Clinton found other uses for the pension, Politico’s Kenneth Vogel reports, including the purchase of the infamous e-mail server system that Hillary Clinton used to thwart legitimate Congressional and judicial oversight of her tenure as Secretary of State:
Bill Clinton’s staff used a decades-old federal government program, originally created to keep former presidents out of the poorhouse, to subsidize his family’s foundation and an associated business, and to support his wife’s private email server, a POLITICO investigation has found.
Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Vogel writes that this is all legal, and he’s correct. The purchases and the subsidies were perfectly legal — for the cash that came directly out of the pension payouts. Any of us could use our own pensions to do exactly the same thing, assuming of course that our pension is $200,000 a year and our own security task force to protect it. The rest of the retirees among us have to satisfy themselves with an annual donation to Feed My Starving Children and a new Chromebook every five years. If that.
But as Vogel explains, the actual picture of how the Clintons have exploited the Former Presidents Act (FPA) gets a lot more murky … and tawdry. They’ve been shaking down taxpayers for sixteen years to run their Clinton Foundation political schemes:
The analysis also found that Clintons’ representatives, between 2001, when the Clintons left the White House, and the end of this year, had requested allocations under the Act totaling $16 million. That’s more than any of the other living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush — requested during that span.
The program supplemented the income of Clinton’s staff, while providing them with coveted federal government benefits, alleviating the need for the Clinton Foundation or other Clinton-linked entities to foot the bill for such benefits. Similarly, Clinton aides got the GSA to pay for computer technology used partly by the foundation.
An analysis of the records provided by GSA, combined with Clinton Foundation tax returns, found that at least 13 of the 22 staffers who have been paid by GSA to work for Clinton’s personal office also worked for the Clinton Foundation.
Remember Doug Band? He’s the Clinton Foundation official who tried to get “face time” at the State Department for big-time foundation donor Gilbert Chagoury, who was later denied entry into the US at all due to FBI concerns about possible connections to Hezbollah. Guess who paid for Band’s benefits and drew a “stipend” from GSA until 2013? Yes, that same Doug Band. The same goes for Justin Cooper, who launched the Teneo consulting firm with Band, at which Huma Abedin moonlighted while working for Hillary at State. He drew a government check through the FPA for at least two years, also ending in 2013 after Hillary left the State Department.
Oh, and don’t forget … Bill Clinton got a $3.5 million contract from Teneo in 2011 — while the GSA was paying both Cooper and Band. (Clinton left abruptly a year later after Teneo’s connections to Jon Corzine made his participation radioactive, and reportedly left behind most of that money.)
Getting the picture? The Clintons have used the FPA to fleece taxpayers, build an impressive influence-peddling organization, and put some significant cash in their own pockets. None of it was illegal, but the exploitation of a taxpayer-provided safety net for political and personal gain crosses several ethical lines. It also reminds taxpayers of what they can expect if and when the Clintons regain access to the entire federal budget.