The Clinton Foundation is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad couple of months. There were the pay to play accusations from Haiti, the numerous other pay to play “coincidences,” the rather cozy relationship with “journalist” donor (and former employee) George Stephanopoulos, reports of $30 million from books and speeches in 16 months, and even the email controversy is being linked to the Foundation as part of “one big, hairy deal.”
It doesn’t end there. Jonathan Allen at Vox reports that in a Friday afternoon Clinton financial disclosure “news dump” is evidence that Hillary “personally took money from companies that sought to influence her”:
During Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, Corning lobbied the department on a variety of trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The company has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to her family’s foundation. And, last July, when it was clear that Clinton would again seek the presidency in 2016, Corning coughed up a $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak.
In the laundry-whirl of stories about Clinton buck-raking, it might be easy for that last part to get lost in the wash. But it’s the part that matters most. The $225,500 speaking fee didn’t go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.
The latest episode in the Clinton money saga is different than the others because it involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions. Her federally required financial disclosure was released to media late Friday, a time government officials and political candidates have long reserved for dumping news they hope will have a short shelf life.
The list of companies engaged in significant lobbying activities and padding Hillary’s personal finances is impressive:
Corning’s in good company in padding the Clinton family bank account after lobbying the State Department and donating to the foundation. Qualcomm and salesforce.com did that, too. Irwin Jacobs, a founder of Qualcomm, and Marc Benioff, a founder of salesforce.com, also cut $25,000 checks to the now-defunct Ready for Hillary SuperPAC. Hillary Clinton spoke to their companies on the same day, October 14, 2014. She collected more than half a million dollars from them that day, adding to the $225,500 salesforce.com had paid her to speak eight months earlier.
And Microsoft, the American Institute of Architects, AT&T, SAP America, Oracle and Telefonica all paid Bill Clinton six-figure sums to speak as Hillary Clinton laid the groundwork for her presidential campaign.
. . . . . There’s a solid set of companies and associations that had nothing to do with the foundation but lobbied State while Clinton was there and then paid for her to speak to them. Xerox, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, in addition to Corning, all lobbied Clinton’s department on trade matters and then invited her to earn an easy check.
It remains unclear how long Hillary can pretend none of this is happening, that it can’t touch her, or that, as the now discredited Stephanopoulos argues, there’s “no smoking gun.” As Jennifer Rubin points out, “you can’t prove I’m a crook” is not a very convincing defense:
As for the Clintons — who are not (yet) in a court of law — the lack of a quid pro quo is an especially poor defense. Hillary destroyed thousands of e-mails about her “private” dealings. Destruction of evidence — not to mention leaving foreign donations off the foundation’s tax returns (recall that McDonnell left the “loans” off bank documents) — tends to underscore that the couple was hiding something and that the evidence in those e-mails or the entities listed on the tax returns would have been incriminating. In the case of the e-mails there is a legal concept known as “spoliation of evidence.” In short, if a court finds that a party has destroyed evidence, it is permissible to assume that it would have proven guilt. (“[C]ourts have long employed the adverse inference jury instruction or ‘spoliation inference,’ to sanction spoliation of evidence. Under this inference, the jury is instructed that it may assume that the lost evidence, if available, would have been unfavorable to the spoliator.”) Again, we are not in court, but the common-sense inference that many voters and the media may make is that destroying the e-mails was in essence a cover-up.
Hillary Clinton’s problems don’t stop there. Even with no quid pro quo, she did not always follow the agreed upon procedure for vetting monies going into the foundation. The Clintons did not disclose some of the subsponsors of Hillary’s own speeches and left out four of Bill’s from disclosure forms. In other words, she broke the rules that were intended to prevent conflicts of interest, which in and of itself is serious malfeasance. Her gross disregard for the appearance of impropriety and for rules that were meant to prevent corruption is stunning.
With the added evidence of speaking fees as another form of Clinton payola, Hillary and the Clinton Foundation have some questions to answer. Among them: what did these companies expect in return for the out-sized “speaking fees” and did they have cause to believe that their “investment” would pay off in some real way in a Clinton administration?DONATE
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