RNC Chair demands White House answer for conflict of interest with Clinton Foundation

Hillary may be laughing at the press about her e-mail server, but she’ll probably find this subject somewhat less amusing. The Chairman of the RNC has broken out the quill and parchment and sent a letter to the White House seeking clarification on foreign donations made to the Clinton Foundation. How, he would like to know, can Americans be sure that there was no type of quid pro quo going on when some of those donors also had business with the State Department?

The leader of the Republican Party on Wednesday demanded that the White House address violations to a “flawed agreement” that was supposed to prevent conflicts of interest involving foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state.

In a letter obtained by McClatchy, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the document that was designed to allay concerns that donors to the Clinton Foundation could influence U.S. foreign policy “failed to alleviate conflicts of interest, and at times was blatantly ignored.”

The letter was sent to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s closest aides who served as co-chair of the Obama transition team and signed the agreement with the Clinton Foundation in December 2008. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An analysis by McClatchy of ten years of donations, some while Hillary Clinton was still Secretary of State, contains a treasure trove of cash which flowed in from foreign governments, NGOs, business owners and wealthy individuals. And while it’s wonderful to be generous, it never hurts to get on the good side of somebody who is ostensibly in charge of foreign policy for the world’s sole remaining superpower and may eventually wind up as president. So who were all these people, and how many of them had business with our government?

There were provisions put in place which should have made this a non-issue. The Clintons agreed not to accept money from governments which hadn’t previously donated and to supply a list of their donors each year for review. So… problem solved, right? Not quite.

Recent news reports indicate the agreement did not always work. The foundation did not seek approval from the State Department before accepting $500,000 from the Algerian government, according to the Washington Post. A related entity, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, failed to disclose its donors annually, between 2010-2013, according to Reuters.

While I’m still not sure exactly why this letter was addressed to Valerie Jarrett, Reince digs into some specifics. He’s asking to know who in the White House was responsible for monitoring the terms of this agreement and at what point they realized that it was not being properly followed, among other things. This seems a far more efficient and potentially productive route than simply going to the press and hoping that they will eventually ask Bill and Hillary for the details themselves. Given her recent pressers, you could be waiting a long time for an answer and not find it terribly satisfying if you received one. But by taking this straight to the top it brings in the obligation of the State Department to stay on top of the situation and drags the Obama administration into the fray by default.

Credit where credit is due. This was a pretty solid move by Reince. A flanking attack by way of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may prove a lot more effective than trying to get Hillary to answer a straight question.