February 24, 2015

The Clinton Machine Is Greased and Ready

The Clinton Foundation is facing questions about possible influence peddling.

Ever since Bill and Hillary Clinton first stepped into public life, the American people have been subjected to their never-ending series of shady political dealings and legal and ethical problems. Hillary’s upcoming presidential run will be no exception. In fact, her latest adventure could top them all.

A recent report by The Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus reveals that Hillary’s involvement with the Clinton Foundation is the focal point of a number of questions about possible influence peddling and selling access to the federal government to foreign entities.

The organization, recently renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, was founded after Bill left office in order to advance humanitarian causes around the world. Well, that’s the foundation’s stated mission. In reality, it was designed to keep Bill’s political muscles flexed and open up new avenues of opportunity for Hillary, whose own run for the presidency was as inevitable as the sunrise when the organization was founded 14 years ago.

In that time, the Foundation has taken in millions of dollars in donations from corporations and individuals from around the world to fund its programs. It has hosted major events in the U.S., in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum, and other locales to show the world just how busy the Clintons are in trying to save it. And it keeps the Clinton family on the move. They racked up $8.5 million in travel expenses in 2013 alone. Is the Foundation really a busy hive of humanitarian activity, or is it, as Kimberly Strassel suggests, the most powerful campaign Super PAC ever devised? Judge for yourself.

Despite Barack Obama’s personal request for Bill to quit raising money from foreign governments while Hillary was Obama’s secretary of state, the Foundation proved to be quite adept at hauling in corporate cash during her tenure.

Some considered Hillary to be a champion for American business during her time at the State Department. It’s nothing new for secretaries of state or other international representatives of the U.S. government to work for favorable conditions for American companies overseas. But the perception of a quid pro quo is undeniable, and it’s alarming.

The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of public and foundation disclosures reveals that at least 60 companies which lobbied the State Department during Hillary’s term as secretary of state donated more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation. At least 44 of those companies took part in philanthropic endeavors coordinated by the Clinton Global Initiative worth some $3.2 billion. Hillary also created 15 public-private partnerships managed by the State Department that involved at least 25 of the aforementioned 60 companies.

Corporate donations to politically connected organizations like the Clinton Foundation are not illegal so long as they are not in exchange for favors. There is no direct evidence of that here, but, after years of watching Bill and Hillary operate, that doesn’t mean much.

The paper trail is vast and complex – no doubt deliberately so. The timeline of donations from companies that dealt with Secretary Clinton shows no distinct pattern that would raise a red flag at first glance. Some donations came to the Foundation after dealings with Hillary’s State Department; sometimes the donations came before. Were the Foundation an actual political PAC, it would be obligated by law to disclose in great detail the level and origination of contributions, what they were for, and how they were distributed. But the Foundation is not a PAC, which helps it disguise some of this.

Access to money and the support of powerful friends both foreign and domestic is what could put Hillary in the White House, and she and Bill know it. It sure won’t be her charm. And, since it’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to U.S. elections, the Foundation offers a clever way to circumvent election law and presents an opportunity for unfettered access to the White House should Hillary win in 2016.

What kind of damage can the Clinton Foundation’s web of donations from and connections to companies and foreign governments do to Hillary’s campaign? That’s difficult to say because Bill and Hillary have set this one up quite nicely. And they are, as always, unfettered by the perception some will have over the arrangement. As George Will notes, “One of the great strengths of the Clintons all along … was a complete inability to be embarrassed.”

Will is correct in assuming that the Clintons don’t care what the Foundation looks like. They will use its humanitarian mission as a shield against any accusations of wrongdoing. But former Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs admits, “I think there is no doubt that the appearances are awkward at best. They’re going to have to do something in the very short term to deal with this in a way that puts it off the table.”

Gibbs’ words speak volumes. It won’t be a matter of ending the practice of taking in money from questionable sources that strain the integrity of the Clinton presidential campaign. It will be a matter of getting it “off the table.” The Leftmedia will come in handy there. Leftist news outlets are already working their magic. The Wall Street Journal story that opened this can of worms last week could have been the top political story. Instead we watched as numerous talking heads got a case of the vapors over what Rudy Giuliani said about Obama’s lack of love for this country.

Duck, dive, twist and pivot. And then blame someone else. And lie about everything. That’s the Clinton playbook for winning a presidential election. And the game is in progress.

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