Earlier this week, Sunlight Foundation official Bill Allison said that the mixture of big dollars, political influence, and stingy charitable outlays made “it seem like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.” Politico’s Anni Karni reports that this hasn’t stopped the Clintons and their family foundation from slushing around, either. The Clinton Foundation will host a nine-day trip to Africa for wealthy donors — and political bundlers:
On their nine-day trip to Africa, Bill and Chelsea Clinton are traveling with 20 wealthy donors and foundation supporters, a group that includes fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and others who are expected to give generously to her campaign.
The opportunity to accompany Bill Clinton on trips across the globe on behalf of his philanthropic foundation has for years been considered both a reward for past donations and an inducement for future giving, say sources familiar with the foundation’s finance operation. This trip, they say, was an especially coveted invite — one that was extended to wealthy Clinton supporters. …
Along this year for the annual foundation trip abroad is Jay Jacobs and his wife, Mindy, longtime Clinton fundraisers and foundation supporters. Jacobs, who has donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the foundation, is also a “Hillstarter,” a “Ready for Hillary” donor, and is planning to be a major fundraiser for Clinton campaign, as he was in 2008. Last month, Jacobs, the CEO of a chain of summer camps, brought Clinton in to give a paid speech at the American Camp Association, where he also lead a q-and-a session with her on the stage.
Lynn Forester de Rothschild is also on the trip; the billionaire CEO has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation and her extended family has invested in the Clinton’s son-in-law’s hedge fund. De Rothschild has been a fierce Clinton supporter for years, and was one of the leading “PUMA” (“Party Unity My Ass”) activists after Clinton lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama in 2008, going so far as to back Republican John McCain in the general election.
A Clinton Foundation spokesperson insisted last week that this trip “has nothing to do with the campaign.” Riiiiiight. It’s just another way of seeking out wealthy donors to keep funding that 6.4% passthrough rate on direct grants to actual charitable work. Hey, those travel expenses won’t just materialize on their own, y’know.
But this is what we’ve come to expect from the Clintons — sleazy deals and privilege hidden behind sanctimonious assertions of virtue. In my column today for The Week, I argue that we’ve arrived at a situation best described as the soft corruption of low expectations, the latter mainly driven by the media and the Democratic Party that can’t quit the Bill and Hillary Show:
George W. Bush often spoke about the disparities in how the government treated different groups of people, especially students that our system assumed could never succeed. These students, Bush said, suffered from “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Well, in this election cycle, the American body politic has been afflicted with the soft corruption of low expectations — and it’s getting worse. …
Ron Fournier laments that the “no evidence” standard is the Clinton team’s only answer. “Clinton’s crisis management team makes a big deal of the fact that Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer hasn’t proven a “quid pro quo,” Fournier notes. “Really? It takes a pretty desperate and cynical campaign to set the bar of acceptable behavior at anything short of bribery.”
The low bar extends to the campaign itself. In a very real sense, Hillary Clinton has prepared for a presidential campaign since 2000. Every move since — running for the U.S. Senate, the first memoir, and the Clinton Foundation itself — was designed to propel her to the White House in 2008. Her term as secretary of state and the second memoir was designed for the 2016 campaign. And yet Hillary Clinton has yet to articulate why she’s running for president. She penned an op-ed for the Des Moines Register this week filled with platitudes but saying nothing about her plans to govern. Over the two weeks since she announced her candidacy, she’s taken a grand total of seven questions from the press.
The Hillary Clinton campaign is the epitome of the soft corruption of low expectations. By refusing to hold her to a higher standard, Democrats and the media are in effect endorsing the kind of cronyism the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons themselves represent. We should forget the standards of indictments and smoking guns, and ask ourselves whether the Clintons are really the best America can do for leadership. That’s the standard that matters, and the standard that the media at one time claimed to support.
The real question is whether Americans will passively swallow this sleazy circus a second time.