The Corner

Politics & Policy

Where Did the Clinton Foundation End and the State Department Begin?

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt

Where Did the Clinton Foundation End and the State Department Begin?

Republicans may never again get such a beatable Democratic nominee:

Newly released e-mails from a top aide to Hillary Clinton show evidence of contacts between Clinton’s State Department and donors to her family foundation and political campaigns.

The e-mails released Tuesday by the conservative group Judicial Watch included a 2009 exchange in which Doug Band, a senior staff member at the Clinton Foundation, told a top Clinton aide at the State Department that it was “important to take care of” an individual, whose name was redacted.

Huma Abedin, the State Department aide, replied that “personnel has been sending him options.”

The evident effort at job placement may add to criticism that the State Department was too close to the foundation during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, despite her pledge not to take actions benefiting her family’s charitable organization. The Republican Party has said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, sought to help contributors to the foundation in a “pay-for-play” scheme.

If you thought this was the sort of back-room favor-trading that Secretary of State would have to renounce before taking the job… you’re right!

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, charged that Mrs. Clinton “hid” the documents from the public because they appeared to contradict her official pledge in 2009 to remove herself from Clinton Foundation business while leading the State Department.

The documents indicate, he said in a telephone interview, that “the State Department and the Clinton Foundation worked hand in hand in terms of policy and donor effort.”

“There was no daylight between the two under Mrs. Clinton, and this was contrary to her promises,” he added.

These are not new concerns. People had been speculating that the Clinton Foundation had become a private version of the State Department, offering easy access to the State Department policy decision-making process for the wealthy and well-connected throughout Obama’s first term.

At no time did the U.S. State Department ever say to Bill Clinton that any of his unbelievably lucrative speaking gigs represented a conflict of interest – even if there was reason to believe a foreign government or entities closely allied with a foreign government were paying.  Recall the State Department praising the progress of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan as the president’s ally invited Bill Clinton to give two speeches in exchange for $1.4 million dollars. The State Department’s generous assessment of Jonathan’s human rights record stopped after the last speaking gig for Clinton.  

The New Republic, back in September 2013:

 There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity…

For corporations, attaching Clinton’s brand to their social investments offered a major p.r. boost. As further incentive, they could hope for a kind word from Clinton the next time they landed in a sticky spot. “Coca-Cola or Dow or whoever would come to the president,” explains a former White House colleague of Band’s, “and say, ‘We need your help on this.’ ” Negotiating these relationships, and the trade-offs they required, could involve some gray areas.

Directing $45 million in taxpayer money to build a luxury hotel in Haiti. Extracting $500,000 donations from school-building charities. More than $50 million in travel expenses in a decade.

For all of their flaws, the news media reported this. Bernie Sanders had the chance to play this card and refused. And the American public appears to be shrugging at this as well. 

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