Pressure is growing for a fresh investigation into Clinton's fund-raising empire
First there was Benghazi — and then Email-gate. The two scandals have caused Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings with American voters to plummet. And despite her best efforts, it’s now Clinton, not Donald Trump, who is perceived as the more “dishonest” and “untrustworthy” candidate.
But Clinton’s reputation could soon be in for another blow. Not only has the State department re-opened its investigation into her unauthorized use of a private server, but a potentially more damaging scandal is looming: Whether Clinton used her position as Secretary of State to build a private fund-raising empire that peddled political influence to foreign governments for private gain – and in the process flouted “public integrity” laws.
Scandal has dogged the Clinton Foundation for years but new questions were raised last year after a flurry of media reports revealed more details about how the foundation’s monies were raised and spent. Among the most damaging revelations contained in those reports:
- Clinton used her official time as Secretary to solicit “charitable” donations for the Clinton Foundation from some of the world’s worst human rights violators including oil-rich powers like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar with a demonstrated history of gender discrimination, persecution of gays, and crackdowns on civil liberties. These are the very same countries that the State Department, under Clinton’s leadership, has routinely criticized for these abuses. It’s not illegal to send contradictory signals to countries in need of internal reform, but it’s hardly the principled leadership upon which Clinton has built her good name.
- Even worse, and potentially criminal, Clinton may have solicited these donations under the terms of a quid pro quo. That is, donors may have received foreign aid benefits as a “reward” for their contributions. For example, according to one extensive investigation, countries Like Saudi Arabia that donated to the Clinton Foundation saw a marked increase in State Department-approved arms sales. The timing as well as the magnitude of these sales – some were unprecedented — is highly suspicious, and if part of an explicit “pay-to-play” arrangement, would be evidence of public “corruption.”
- In many cases, it appears that the enormous sums raised by the Clinton Foundation did not even come close to achieving their “humanitarian” objectives, or worse – in cases like Haiti — caused even greater problems for the recipient countries. The Clintons, according to a confidential report prepared by their own daughter, Chelsea, apparently did little to actively monitor Clinton Foundation projects, facilitating chronic abuse and mismanagement. There is also compelling evidence that the Clintons failed to report contributions – and even improperly established the Clinton Foundation as a “charity” – in violation of federal and local laws. And yet the Clintons continue to extol their foundation work as if it were beyond reproach
The US government often establishes amicable partnerships with foreign governments that involve an explicit or tacit exchange of “benefits.” That’s what good diplomacy is all about. In addition, public officials sometimes conduct charitable work in their own name even while holding office. But in this case, through a private intermediary beholden only to Clinton and her fellow “charitable” board members, the former First Lady appears to have hijacked public authority to negotiate illicit foreign policy “side-deals” outside established channels. These arrangements may have skewed US national interests while allowing her – and the Foundation — to profit from the transactions. If so, she and those who knowingly facilitated such deals broke the law.
What can the public do? The House GOP is already circulating a letter demanding that the FBI, the State Department and other federal agencies fully investigate the Clinton Foundation and its operations prior to the November election. There also needs to be a stronger push from major media organizations – many of them far too friendly to Clinton’s candidacy — to turn up the heat on these same agencies. It may turn out that Clinton, in the end, will be cleared of criminal wrongdoing, just as she was in Email-Gate. But voters have the right to know now – not later — the full extent, gravity and consequences of Clinton’s efforts to build a policy world unto herself without the participation of the taxpayers and their legitimate representatives.