When does a favor for a friend become “pay for play” in American politics? That’s a pretty gray area, but assuming we could ever draw that line the Clintons have surely obliterated it. The amount of money which has flowed through the Clinton Foundation from influential persons around the world is already legendary. Some have wound up asking for favors, meetings, preferred seating at diplomatic dinners or just to have a good word put in on their behalf. But others appear to have gotten something far more concrete in terms of a quid pro quo. The Washington Examiner goes through some of the numbers this week and finds that of all advisory appointments made during her tenure, around 40% (!) went to foundation donors.
Hillary Clinton placed dozens of her donors on State Department advisory boards between 2009 and 2012, federal records show.
The former secretary of state’s agency appointed 194 donors who had given either to her family’s foundation, her political campaigns, or both, or were affiliated with groups that had.
Those donors represented nearly 40 percent of the 511 advisory appointments the State Department made during Clinton’s tenure.
Just to put on the “fair and balanced” hat for a moment, not every political appointment is an indication of the trading of favors. The State Department appoints a lot of people to these various advisory boards and to expect someone with Hillary Clinton’s history to only fill all those seats with total strangers is unreasonable. The fact that there are so many donors to the Clinton Foundation makes it even harder to make that an immediate disqualifier.
Along those lines, some of the appointments highlighted by the Examiner article don’t really raise any red flags. The best example is probably Clinton’s appointment of two executives from UPS and FedEx. Yes, they donated heavily to the foundation, but they were named to the postal and delivery advisory board. Kind of hard to deny that they have expertise in that area.
But then there are all the cases like the appointment of Kaki Hockersmith. She was put on the United States National Commission on UNESCO, a position where she would be responsible for looking into international humanitarian development. It’s a big job, and I’m sure she was served well by her extensive experience from the Arkansas Governors Mansion Association and her work as an interior designer who decorated the Clinton White House. (The fact that she bundled $100,000 for Hillary’s 2008 campaign no doubt also gave her a lot of background in humanitarian work.)
This is a long list and it will take a while to dig through in its entirely. But before we close, just look at the spread of people receiving these appointments from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Out of 511 advisory appointments, more than 200 of them (roughly 40%) were foundation donors. Isn’t that a bit much to simply be coincidence?