Politics & Policy

Don’t Let the Clintons Get Their Hands on the Ex-Im Bank Again

When Bill was president, they allegedly used it to solicit campaign donations. Hillary would be no different.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank is an agency where crony capitalism has flourished, and no one realized this faster than the Clintons. In the late 1990s, the bank was in the headlines regularly for the sort of shady pay-for-play allegations that have become synonymous with Clinton, Inc., and it became a textbook example of how Bill and Hillary work.

The first thing that needed to be done was to install a longtime loyal political operative as one of the bank’s directors. In this case, it was the now-deceased Maria Haley, who, before being appointed to the Ex-Im board by President Clinton, was an official at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission under Governor Clinton for many years.

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Once this appointment was in place, the Export-Import Bank became the perfect vehicle to offer access to big political donors who might want government loans for a business deal they were working on. It also provided an ideal way to prospect for new donors. If a businessman came in the door looking for a loan, and it was found that he was not a donor, his name was sent to the Democratic National Committee for a follow-up call. According to the Los Angeles Times in 1997, “internal documents released by the Export-Import Bank of the United States showed that Maria L. Haley, a presidential appointee to the bank’s governing board, provided names of prospective contributors to the DNC.”

The Export-Import Bank became the perfect vehicle to offer access to big political donors.

However, if you were shrewd enough to already have put coins in the subway (as infamous Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung said during the foreign-money campaign-finance investigation in the 1990s), with the Clintons you were in business. One of those big donors was Pauline Kanchanalak, since convicted of campaign-finance crimes. According to the New York Times: “The project was put together in large part by Pauline Kanchanalak, a Thai businesswoman who attended an important meeting of Export-Import Bank officials at Ms. Haley’s office. . . . [In 1996,] records show, Mrs. Kanchanalak and relatives gave more than $200,000 to the Democratic Party, most of which was returned because of questions about its origins.” Kanchanalak also attended one of the controversial White House “coffees” with President Clinton.

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Another group of notorious Clinton donors who gained access to the Ex-Im Bank were none other than James Riady and John Huang of the Indonesian Lippo Group. Riady and Huang, like Kanchanalak, were later convicted of campaign-finance crimes. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Next came John Huang, who arranged a session with Haley for himself and his boss, James T. Riady, of the Indonesia-based Lippo financial group. Riady is a former resident of Little Rock, Ark., and a friend of Clinton. The Lippo Group was preparing to participate with a U.S. firm in a major energy project in China that was seeking financing from the Eximbank.

And what would a Clinton scandal be without Hillary Clinton’s former law partners? The New York Times reported in March 1997 that both Webster Hubbell and Joseph Giroir were involved in the deal:

Telephone logs from the Commerce Department show that, within days of Mr. Huang’s arrival, he was called several times by Mr. Hubbell and by Arkansas friends like C. Joseph Giroir Jr., a Little Rock lawyer and one of Mr. Hubbell’s former law partners, who were working with the Riadys on the China project.

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Based on what we’ve seen recently with official State Department business, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and missing e-mails, the Clintons haven’t changed. So the question for Republicans on the Hill is: Do you support good-government reforms, or more crony capitalism? Why in the world would you let another President Clinton get hold of an agency like this and use it to reward big political contributors with billions in taxpayer dollars? It’s time to let the Export-Import Bank expire and send a message to the American people that you’re looking out for their money. Let’s not put this crony piggy bank in the Clintons’ hands again.

— David Bossie is the president of Citizens United.

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