The Corner

Law & the Courts

Guess Who Paid for Hillary’s ‘Private’ Server? Look in the Mirror!

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Guess Who Paid for Hillary’s ‘Private’ Server? Look in the Mirror!

Great news, America. Your tax dollars were used to supplement the salaries for Clinton Foundation staff.

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.

This is the Clintons in a nutshell: use a private server to escape FOIA and Congressional subpoenas, and make the taxpayers pay for it.

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.

This investigation, which is based on records obtained from the General Services Administration through the Freedom of Information Act, does not reveal anything illegal. But it does offer fresh evidence of how the Clintons blurred the line between their non-profit foundation, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the business dealings of Bill Clinton and the couple’s aides…

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.

Not many people object to the federal General Services Administration cover the costs of a former president’s pensions, correspondence, support staff and travel – because most of the time these are fairly minor expenses. For example, each president gets $96,600 per year for staffing that they can divide as they see fit; they could have one staffer making the full amount or three making about $32,000 per year, etcetera. Politico’s report notes George H. W. Bush has four people on his taxpayer-funded staff, while Bill Clinton has 10. In other words, the GSA funding was used to boost salaries of Clinton staffers making money from other sources – i.e., the Foundation.

I know this will stun you, but foreign governments and individuals will still be able to give to the Clinton Foundation in a Hillary Clinton presidency – even with the “reforms” the Clintons promised.

While Bill Clinton’s proposal would stop a foreign-registered entity from transferring largely untraceable money as CGEP did, there’s nothing in his proposal to stop a foreign government or individual from giving millions of dollars to a U.S.-registered foundation, which could then transfer that cash on to the Clinton Foundation.

“We know from the campaign finance world that determining whether foreign funds are behind a donation from a U.S.-based organization that does not disclose its donors is almost impossible,” said Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan watchdog.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the non-partisan watchdog Public Citizen, echoed Noble’s concerns.

“It just isn’t going to sit well with the public if it starts becoming exposed that a 501c [non-profit entity] is making huge contributions and then later we can figure out that 501c has actually been set up by Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Heck, if you’re Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Algeria, just give money to an individual – either via cash, overseas account, or – and ask the individual to give the donation on your behalf. As I wrote yesterday:

Accepting only contributions from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S.-based independent foundations? Why should anyone assume there’s not a single U.S. citizen who’s willing to make donations to the Clinton Foundation on behalf of a foreign country in exchange for favors down the road? You’ll recall that one of the allegations troubling Paul Manafort was that he had worked on behalf of a Ukrainian political party, steering its money into U.S. lobbying firms without disclosing it.

Foundations are traditionally created by people who are past the point in their careers where they seek to set public policy. You can’t have a foundation that’s free to take as much money as it can from anyone AND still have a direct say in what laws get passed and what regulations get enacted.

 

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