Clinton, Inc.

The personal, the political, and the Foundation are so intertwined as to be one enterprise.

clinton-foundation

A WaPo report headlined “Inside ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’: Hacked memo reveals intersection of charity and personal income” verifies what I have long presumed to be the case: that there is no meaningful distinction between the Clintons’ political, personal, and foundation lives; they are an intertwined whole.

The setup:

Let me reiterate at the outset that I’m deeply troubled about the extent to which stolen documents that invade private conversations, even among public figures, has become a routine part of our news coverage. That this was done by the criminal enterprise Wikileaks, quite probably with the help of the Russian government, makes it even worse. But, alas, here we are.

When top Bill Clinton aide Douglas Band wrote the memo, he was a central player at the Clinton Foundation and president of his own corporate consulting firm. Over the course of 13 pages, he made a case that his multiple roles had served the interests of the Clinton family and its charity.

In doing so, Band also detailed a circle of enrichment in which he raised money for the Clinton Foundation from top-tier corporations such as Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola that were clients of his firm, Teneo, while pressing many of those same donors to provide personal income to the former president.

[…]

The memo, made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family’s fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department. It describes how Band helped run what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.,” obtaining “in-kind services for the President and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.”

More specifically:

“We have dedicated ourselves to helping the President secure and engage in for-profit activities,” Band wrote. He also said he had “sought to leverage my activities, including my partner role at Teneo, to support and to raise funds for the foundation.”

Band’s memo provided data showing how much money each of Teneo’s 20 clients at the time had given to the Clinton Foundation, how much they had paid Bill Clinton and, in some cases, how he or Kelly had personally forged the relationships that resulted in the payments.

Band wrote that Teneo partners had raised in excess of $8 million for the foundation and $3 million in paid speaking fees for Bill Clinton. He said he had secured contracts for the former president that would pay out $66 million over the subsequent nine years if the deals remained in place.

For instance, Band wrote that Kelly arranged for the former president to meet the chief executive of Coca-Cola in January 2009 at the Clintons’ home in Washington. In all, according to Band’s memo, Coke had contributed $4.33 million to the foundation between 2004 and 2010.

A Coca-Cola spokesman said the company had supported the Clinton Foundation because it believed “in the great work that can be done when businesses, civil society and governments come together to solve problems.” He said Teneo had been hired to provide “business and communications” consulting.

Band also described how Kelly helped expand a fruitful relationship with UBS Global Wealth Management, introducing Bill Clinton to a top executive at a 2009 charity dinner. In the ensuing years, UBS upped its giving to the foundation, signed on as a Teneo client and agreed to pay Bill Clinton for speeches, Band wrote.

Records show UBS paid Clinton about $2 million in speaking fees between 2011 and 2015 for a series of appearances, generally alongside former president George W. Bush. The company also paid Hillary Clinton $225,000 for a 2013 speech.

UBS declined to comment.

Another achievement cited by Band: Laureate International Universities, a chain of for-profit international colleges, which donated to the foundation and agreed to pay Bill Clinton $3.5 million a year to serve as honorary chancellor.

Unlike my co-blogger, Doug Mataconis, I am not a lawyer. I do, however, read a lot of analysis by legal professionals and I have seen no credible charge that any of this violates the law.

Despite charges by many on the right, I believe that the Clinton Foundation does in fact do substantial, valuable charitable work. But, rather clearly, it also helps support a lavish lifestyle for the Clintons and has also been leveraged to directly enrich them via the speech circuit.

Now, of course, the Clintons would be doing fine on the speech circuit on their own. The fact that Bush 43 was on part of the circuit with his predecessor is but one piece of evidence for that.

Additionally, it looks very much like the leveraging went both ways:

Chelsea Clinton grew concerned when news leaked in late 2011 that MF Global, the hedge fund owned by former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, had been paying the Clinton-tied firm $125,000 a month just before MF Global went bankrupt.

According to emails released by WikiLeaks, Chelsea Clinton complained in December 2011 to longtime Clinton aide John Podesta, who at the time was serving as an adviser to the Clinton Foundation, that she had been informed that a member of her father’s office staff who answered to Band had been making calls to British lawmakers “on behalf of President Clinton” for Teneo clients, particularly for the chief executive of Dow Chemical.

Chelsea Clinton wrote that the calls were occurring without her father’s knowledge and that the reactions she was hearing to them would “horrify” Bill Clinton. In another email, she wrote she feared Teneo was “hustling business at CGI.”

Chelsea Clinton’s concerns helped spark efforts at the foundation to adopt new policies governing outside consulting agreements designed to erect a more solid wall between Bill Clinton’s private and charitable activities. Emails show that Cheryl Mills, who at the time was serving as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was deeply involved in the foundation’s proceedings.

Bill Clinton also separated from Teneo, returning to the company all but $100,000 of the money he had been paid, tax returns show.

It’s not clear which of the monies Clinton repaid. Just those directly from Teneo?

But Band believed he was being held to a higher standard:

“I don’t deserve this from her and deserve a tad more respect or at least a direct dialogue for me to explain these things,” Band wrote to Podesta at the time. “She is acting like a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she’s doing because she, as she has said, hasn’t found her way and has a lack of focus in her life.”

Band complained that no similar scrutiny was being applied to Bill Clinton himself. Band noted that he had previously signed a conflict of interest document for CGI.

“Oddly, WJC does not have to sign such a document even though he is personally paid by 3 cgi sponsors, gets many expensive gifts from them, some that are at home etc.,” he wrote.

The Band memo disclosed by WikiLeaks on Wednesday made no direct reference to Hillary Clinton.

But Band outlined that Kelly, his Teneo co-founder, had served simultaneously between 2009 and 2011 as an unpaid economic envoy to Northern Ireland appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and as head of a separate consulting company whose clients included Coke, UBS and Dow. Band wrote that the arrangement was consistent with Kelly’s State Department ethics agreement.

Kelly’s multiple roles came together during one State Department event in 2010, when then-Secretary Clinton recognized Dow, among other companies, for creating jobs in Northern Ireland and thanked Kelly for his work on the issue.

Separating Bill Clinton from Hillary Clinton here is an absurdity: they’re a partnership. His status as a former president benefits the team. So did her status as a sitting Secretary of State and presumptive frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic nomination. The possibility of gaining access for donating to the foundation and providing lavish speaking fees and other perquisites was implicit; so, too, was the threat of being shut out for not doing these things.

Again, I don’t have any reason to think any of this is illegal. The Clintons are highly competent legal minds and presumably employ legions of others to keep their actions in the gray zone.

Part of this is simply the essentially unprecedented situation of having a husband and wife team where both are in such high-powered roles. This has been a problem going back to the Arkansas days:  It’s impossible to nail down what benefits Hillary got from being married to the sitting attorney general and governor and how much was earned purely own her own, not inconsiderable talents. Since Bill left the presidency in 2001–days after Hillary ascended to the Senate—the situation has been reversed.  A man with his resume and natural charm was going to get rich if he so desired. But her new perch and the very real prospects of her following him in the White House in the very near future certainly didn’t hurt.

None of this makes Donald J. Trump any less of an unqualified sleazeball. But it’s a large part of why a lot of people, myself included, are having a very difficult time making that tiny last step of endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    James: First, I continue to be conflicted by the notion that these stolen documents are accurate and authentic. Would the wikileaks releases be considered valid evidence in court?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: None of the named parties are denying the validity of any of the leaks, so I presume them genuine. IANAL, so don’t know on admissibility. I’d hope not, but would presume that they would make discovery a breeze.

  3. Pch101 says:

    Dan Quayle is a senior executive at Cerberus, the very same Cerberus that crashed-and-burned Chrysler and GMAC to the point that the feds had to allocate billions of dollars in order to bail them out.

    The funny thing is that I’m not outraged by this, even though Quayle’s primary credential for landing the job was his track record of being one of America’s most useless vice presidents. I don’t have any particular problem with him even though both of these deals paved the way for two major financial disasters that could have dragged down the US economy had the feds not intervened. (And Cerberus’ plan for Chrysler was pretty lousy, even without the recession, so it’s not surprising that it failed.)

    Clinton is using his schmoozing skills to good effect. He displays the traits of a successful person, and is well known for his talents as a relationship builder. I’m not sure what you would rather see him do.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    I just don’t see why this is even considered unseemly. The Clinton’s, once out of public office, have made a lot of money speaking and consulting. They also have headed a charity. In addition to this, they worked their professional contacts to make charitable donations. Why is that sleazy?

    I suppose it is a legitimate opinion that making money off of speaking and consulting engagements is beneath the dignity of high government officials, but if you hold that standard you should apply it to all, i.e. virtually every senior official who leaves government service, from AG’s on up to every President in my lifetime (maybe Carter being excepted?)

    And working your contacts for charitable donations is how charity fundraising works. It is literally the norm in virtually all charitable organizations. I have a family member involved in fundraising for a number of organizations both as a volunteer and professionally. Successful fundraising involves reaching out to everyone you can, asking them to reach out to everyone they know, and so on and so forth. For certain types of fundraising you cast a wide net (email appeals) but for others you are more tightly focused. You are looking for people or organizations that are sympathetic towards your goals, have control of money to donate and who are open to being persuaded. If this is unethical, then virtually every legitimate charity in the world is unethical. It seems to me that is what the Clinton’s have done. They worked their network.

    James, just how do you think it should it work? And do you apply this standard to The United Way, Easter Seals, Walk for the Cure, etc, etc, etc.?

  5. The speech to a Brazilian Bank(Itau) about borders touched a cord with me. I know the elites of my country, they are extremely naive about Europeans and Americans accepting free trade deals, and that was exactly what someone would say to a Brazilian bank if you are saying to them what they want to hear.

  6. Stonetools says:

    The test for me is, James, is if one of your preferred politicians, say Jeb Bush or Colin Powell, was doing this, would this be a problem? I remember Doug making one post after another re Clinton’s paid speeches- until it came out that the Bushes were making millions -as much or more than the Clintons-making paid speeches. Suddenly, those posts stopped. It also came out that Jeb makes millions sitting on various corporate boards. Of a sudden, the right wing chorus about Clinton corruption dwindled, although it didn’t go away.
    Now if you are a liberal, you don’t like any of this , but I’m not sure I understand the conservative critique of this. Conservatives never had any problem with politicians making money doing paid speeches, sitting on corporate boards etc-till the Clintons did it and one of them ran for President. Then somehow it became The Worst Corruption Ever. I’m not buying this, even if I do think it deserves careful scrutiny.

  7. SenyorDave says:

    I have to compare the Clinton Foundation with Trump’s charity. Trump has engaged in blatant “self dealing” (AKA “stealing”), where he uses charitable assets to benefit his own interests. His charity gave an illegal campaign contribution to an AG who was looking into Trump University. The investigation did not go forward. The Trump charity seems to function as Trump’s own personal slush fund.
    As far as the Clinton Foundation goes, unless something else breaks its seems the worst you could say is some appearances look bad. A large effect of the Wikileaks release of the hacked e-mails is the mere fact that they were hacked seems to lead people to assume that the activities were illegal.

  8. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner: Ok, you presume accuracy.

    A first principle of journalism is authenticate.

    The problem I see for Podesta is that wikileaks has suggested that there are more coming. If Podesta confirms (as authentic) anything that is out now, that authenticity will be implied to any future wikileak releases. So I can see why Podesta has not confirmed anything. I wouldn’t.

    That aside, I still maintain that to build a case/argument on unauthenticated (and illegally obtained) evidence is inherently shaky and speculative. We should be better than conspiracy theorists who weave their story around exactly the same type of “evidence”

  9. CSK says:

    How would the exclusionary rule apply here?

  10. JohnMcC says:

    I’ll ‘stipulate’ that the memo is authentic after thoughtfully reading the admirable comment by Bob from Youngstown. But will toss this little thought in — that presumably the Russian Intel services had these for some fairly long period of time and could have a rough outline for how our election would work (the lead-time between story breaking and the response by voters, for example) so watch particularly the next week. I’d think a lack of inflammatory stories would mitigate against fraudulent alterations to their content.

  11. R.Dave says:

    @MarkedMan: The Clinton’s, once out of public office, have made a lot of money speaking and consulting. They also have headed a charity. In addition to this, they worked their professional contacts to make charitable donations. Why is that sleazy?

    This is the crux of it for me, and I think it just smacks of corruption because of the amount of money and power involved. Put it in small town terms, and it seems a lot less nefarious:

    Sam Kittell, after serving for years on the Town Selectboard, including two terms as Chairman, started a part-time consulting business. After Sam left office, his wife, Barbara, was elected to the school board, where she served for several years, and she’s now running for Chair of the Selectboard herself. In their personal lives, both Sam and Barbara have long been active in their church’s various charity efforts, and they even started their own charitable group, raising money for everything from the local little league team to an annual Christmas toy drive and a new adult education program hosted at the town library every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Sam and Barbara definitely weren’t shy about hitting up everyone they knew for donations – Sam’s clients and Barbara’s colleagues on the school board all knew they’d be getting “the pitch” at least once a year – but it was all for a good cause, so who could possibly object?

  12. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t have a problem with the emails being hacked. The Pentagon Papers were “hacked” in a 1970’s kind of way. But I am completely skeptical of authenticity. It’s worse than the fact that the Russians or Wikileaks could make phony emails and add them to the mix. If the hackers had sufficient access to the systems they hacked they could actually add them in or alter them at the source.

    BTW, does anyone know what email systems we are talking about. Was it generic commercially available email providers (like the AOL email account Colin Powell used when he was Secretary of State, or the similar accounts that Condelleza Rice’s senior staff used when she was Secretary of State)? I guess what I’m wondering is whether there was a single hack and they got into the Clinton Campaign email server, whethera privately hosted server (like she used when she was SOS) or a commercially available hosting service? Or did they hack Podesta’s gmail account, and someone else’s Yahoo account, etc etc?

  13. dxq says:

    If this is the most negative thing that can be said about them, I’m With Her!

  14. JohnMcC says:

    There are varieties of noses obviously. Our Host has acute sensitivity to Clintons and any whiff of scandal is self-confirming if it bears their name. He is obviously aware of previous Presidents whom he approves of (in at least the sense of approving of their honor and morality) doing similar things. I quickly find that former Pres Reagan made $2Million on a speaking tour of Japan despite his alzheimers. There was a famous remark by GWBush about replenishing the old coffers and it appears despite a 22% approval rating he was judged to be worth $150,000/speech during the heart of the Great Recession.

    I find this stuff distasteful as it seems Dr Joyner does.

    Could I suggest that the Clinton Global Inititiative appears so much worse than similar activities because Hillary’s ambitions made the mingling of money, politics and celebrity so visible in ways previous ex-Presidential fund-raising didn’t.

    Could I suggest further that this distasteful mingling resulted in more than a comfortable retirement for an ex-President or the construction of a Presidential Library. This resulted in a charity that does a great deal of very good stuff for some of the poorest people in the world. That seems to me to be worth considering in making ethical/moral judgements.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with a sensitive nose.

  15. Franklin says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I just don’t see why this is even considered unseemly. The Clinton’s, once out of public office, have made a lot of money speaking and consulting. They also have headed a charity. In addition to this, they worked their professional contacts to make charitable donations. Why is that sleazy?

    I would go with ‘unseemly’ rather than ‘sleazy’. And here’s why: these people paying big dollars get access. Not just to the Clintons, but friendly references to other powerful figures. “Hey, thanks for coming to speak to my group. By the way, I have a little bone to pick about these regulations affecting my group …”

    Do I know if this happens? Obviously I wasn’t there, but I’d say yes. Those same people do not get to influence government if they don’t pony up. Sorry, but that’s unseemly at the very least.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    We need to decide in this country whether money – the making of it, the amassing of it – is our central value in life or not. Because this gets ridiculous. It seems the only time money is obscene is when it’s the other guy’s. The entirety of Trump’s claim to fame is: I got money. The central tenet of the GOP is: Money good, more money better.

    Do we have any other value system as a nation? I’m asking a serious question: what else do we supposedly believe in aside from money? We are comparing Trump’s efforts to raise charity money solely to only line his own pockets, with the Clinton effort to do good while lining their pockets, just what system of values are we applying here?

  17. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I just don’t see why this is even considered unseemly. The Clinton’s, once out of public office, have made a lot of money speaking and consulting. They also have headed a charity. In addition to this, they worked their professional contacts to make charitable donations. Why is that sleazy?

    Precisely because they have not, in fact, been out of public office. Going back to the early 1980s, one of them has either been in an elected or appointed position or actively campaigning for one.

    @Bob@Youngstown and @MarkedMan: C’mon. There’s simply no reason to believe that any of this is inauthentic. Nobody has denied anything. The emails are very much in the character of what we already know about the people in question. And, frankly, the vast majority of them are perfectly innocuous, such that the reaction of all but the most vitriolic opponent is, “Well, yeah.”

    @JohnMcC: I think Reagan, Bush, and company making large amounts of money post-presidency was/is unseemly, in that it slightly diminishes the stature of the office. For Reagan, at least, there was no more tie to power. For Bush, of course, his sons were sitting governors and, eventually, president, which creates complications. But it’s simply not the same thing as someone with whom one shares a joint banking account.

    @michael reynolds: Trump is a complete sleazebag. I think the Clintons have both successfully gamed the system to line their pockets and genuinely care about the causes they champion. (There’s triangulation, of course, but that’s a separate issue.) The difference is that Trump, while much more vile a human being, did these things as a private citizen. The Clintons have done them as a political team, with one in power and the other reaping the financial benefits of that power, over the course of decades. That may simply become the new normal as power couples continue to be more equal in their power. But it’s highly problematic.

  18. barbintheboonies says:

    @R.Dave: APPLES TO ORANGES When a person in a powerful position uses that power to give advantage to the person that bribes them, then the others who don`t pay lose. The person you are describing is asking for donations for a specific cause. I am sure the Clintons use a very big chunk of their money to helping others and a much bigger chunk helping themselves, but this is at the cost of others losing out. People could even lose their small businesses to make way for Mr. Big

  19. Jen says:

    I get that some people think the earning of big bucks after leaving the presidency may feel unseemly, but I’d urge caution with this line of thinking. Public service is an important calling, and we need good, smart people to do it. This is true up and down the entire chain–from local offices to the public sector/agencies work, to yes, the Presidency. It also pays squat compared to what smart people can earn in the private sector.

    As a society, we’ve set up a situation where people’s lives are turned inside-out when they run for office. Every decision made from high school on becomes fodder for criticism. When they’re in office they are subject to even greater scrutiny (witness Mr. Chaffetz’s promise of never-ending investigations), character assassination, and more. Now we’re going to ask them to not earn speaker’s fees after they leave office for appearance’s sake? Forget that. As far as I’m concerned, whether it’s Bush 41, 43, the Clintons or Obama, they’ve earned it.

    I get that there’s a distinction with the Clintons because she’s now running for office. That does complicate things–but I also understand completely why she went ahead and did the speaking engagements: you earn the money while you can. There was no guarantee she’d run (likely, yes, but she could easily have decided the private life suited her and decided not to run). Make hay while the sun shines, and all that.

    On the Wikileaks authenticity issue: wasn’t there already a case where it was identified that they were modified? A reporter caught a segment of an email that was supposedly written by person A to person B, but the text was actually lifted from one of his articles?

  20. gVOR08 says:

    So. Once again things everyone else does are scandals when the Clintons do them. Because Hillary? Because they’re better at it? What?

    I don’t recall any complaints about The Carlyle Group while various Bushes were in office. A real crony operation like the Clintons’ charity, except for the charity part. .

  21. barbintheboonies says:

    @gVOR08: Wrong is wrong no matter who does it. I just cannot understand when government went after the mafia for basically the same thing Pay to play, okay without the killing. The government used RICO to put them out of business. I guess they wanted all the action themselves. I wonder if this could be used against the banksters and our corrupt government.

  22. The Clintons are the only couple that are trying to return to the White House. But every US President since at least Truman(That was an exception, they lived a very low key life after the Presidency) made a lot of money with paid speeches and things like that after they left the White House.

  23. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    I am sure the Clintons use a very big chunk of their money to helping others and a much bigger chunk helping themselves, but this is at the cost of others losing out.

    Chunks:
    What we know: 10% of Clinton cash went to their foundation.
    34% of Clinton’s cash went to Federal Income Tax.
    Presumably the remainder, 56% went to themselves.

    Your conclusion is that because they were able to keep slightly more than half of their earnings, other people are “losing out”.

    Help us by explaining who these “others” are and how much they “lost” as a result of the Clinton’s keeping half of their earnings.

  24. dxq says:

    @barbintheboonies: if you’re hitting the key above Tab to make your apostrophes, you might want to switch to the key to the left of the Enter key. It kerns better.

  25. Rick DeMent says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Clintons have done them as a political team, with one in power and the other reaping the financial benefits of that power, over the course of decades. That may simply become the new normal as power couples continue to be more equal in their power. But it’s highly problematic.

    Right, but how much more “problematic” is it then simply taking campaign donations and being wined and dined by lobbyists? Sure, you can say that “all of it” is corrupt and we should do something about it. But right now it’s legal and unless you are going to say that every elected official is irredeemably corrupt then I question why you are singling out the Clinton’s. Is it becase they are just better at it then your guys?

    And while you contemplate that, let’s ask the question, is what the Clinton’s have been doing any freaking different, other then scale, to what every other politician from the local drain commissioner to the president does? Of course it’s not (lacking specific evidence of wrongdoing).

    It’s the same dynamic anyway you slice it. If I’m a House rep getting oodles of cash from oil companies, and I vote 100% of the time for oil companies am I corrupt? Well of course I am but since you can’t prove it, and I haven’t broke any laws, I’m good! But then again, how could you not be? And yet people like you and Doug defend the idea of Money = Speech. So why is it when the Clinton’s engage in activities that is systematically identical to accepting campaign contributions everyone has their nose to the air for the scent of foul play?

    Look I’m all for scrapping money = speech and severely limiting campaign donations down to the bone. And if you want to start legislating that everyone that goes into public office should divest themselves of anything that hints of impropriety then I’m not sure where you get the moral or logical authority to even ask the question about the Clinton’s. Until we get an all out ban on professional lobbying or at the very least prevent government officials from doing it for at least 8 years after leaving government (or similar proposals to end the money = speech nonsense) I’m not sure you have any standing calling out the Clinton’s.

  26. barbintheboonies says:

    @dxq: Why does it really bother you.

  27. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @James Joyner:

    There’s simply no reason to believe that any of this is inauthentic.

    Gee, I can think of one: Assange’s personal grudge with Clinton and his personal (and stated) intention to disrupt her campaign.

    Quoth Assange: “She’s a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people.”

    Assange would not be the first to allow his personal motives to influence his “reporting”

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Franklin:

    these people paying big dollars get access. Not just to the Clintons, but friendly references to other powerful figures

    Of course. People donate to charity for all kinds of reasons. People become involved in causes for all kinds of reasons. People join churches, country clubs, the Rotarians, alumni groups, and so forth for all kinds of reasons, often more than one reason at a time. And sometimes one of those reasons is connecting with some of the other people involved in that charity so they can further their business dealings. Sometimes it’s so they can hang around with famous people. Sometimes its to get their picture in the paper or the local “What’s Happening” magazine – heck, the Annapolis one is half full of people wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothes and tens of thousands worth of jewelry at an endless string of charity events.

    As a society we don’t usually disparage the charity because the motivations of people donating to it are less than spiritual. Why is it so in this case? The Clinton’s are sleazy not because of any quid pro quo, but because many of the people donating to their charity are doing it for self-serving reasons? And that is different than any other charity in what way?

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Assange is a scumbag. I don’t trust these documents on his say-so but because he has released a lot of them over the last few weeks and the substance simply hasn’t been denied.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    C’mon. There’s simply no reason to believe that any of this is inauthentic. Nobody has denied anything.

    You’re correct and in re-reading my email I wasn’t clear: absent those denials, I take what has been leaked at face value and assume they are authentic. And I don’t really have an objection to the hacking per se. My caveat was speculative: I think the sources are severely tainted and they could easily alter the emails before they are released. Today it is DNC emails, tomorrow it could be anyone else.

    I don’t know what can be done about it, but we are in a place where the Russians could hand Wikileaks a totally fraudulent document and if Julian Assange feels it hurts someone on his enemies list he will put it out there without vetting it. That’s not a good thing.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    For Bush, of course, his sons were sitting governors and, eventually, president, which creates complications. But it’s simply not the same thing as someone with whom one shares a joint banking account.

    Is this a real distinction or a post hoc one? It is unethical for a married couple to do this but father/son is OK?

    The Bush case is especially interesting, because in H.W.’s and Neil Bush’s case there was definitely a conflict of interest at one point: HW as president oversaw the S&L scandal and Neil was in it up to his eyeballs. I think that raises a lot more red flags than donating money to charity, but I don’t think it means that no child of a President or former President should be barred from entering the business world.

    And of course people who paid HW for speeches might have hoped they could influence the sons either as Govenor or as President. That’s the nature of the world, pretty much anyone HW did business with could have benefitted from having the George W’s ear. But it’s normally not enough to say “HW could have influenced his son on behalf of business interests or friends”. Normally you would need evidence of actual malfeasance.

    Why is that evidence needed for the Bush’s but not for Clinton’s?

  32. Pch101 says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    You seem to be one of those who defines “corruption” as “things that Barb does not understand.”

    Let’s suppose that you had ambitions to build a charity that could move millions of dollars to the developing world. Tell us how you would raise the money to get there.

    This is not a rhetorical question — I would like you to tell me how you would do it. I am not referring to some pie-in-the-sky idea that is not achievable without complete luck and the right lottery ticket, but to a realistic plan that could actually get this done.

    You might want to consider the possibility that the Clintons are better at this stuff than you are and know something about getting beyond the talking-on-the-internet stage.

  33. Stonetools says:

    s. But it’s simply not the same thing as someone with whom one shares a joint banking account.

    That’s some world class hair splitting right there, James. Gotta say your approach seems to be a classic Clinton Rules scenario- if the Clintons do it , it’s wrong but if the Bushes do it. it’s concerning but ultimately OK because the Bushes are decent Republican folk, not like those sleazy Clinton Democrats. It’s why you find excuses for Powell’s email misconduct that you don’t accept for Clinton.
    Note BTW that Powell has endorsed Clinton, even though he is not an admirer. He seems to be able to put aside the partisan googles and make the rational choice

  34. Gromitt Gunn says:

    So basically, if the Clintons had bankrolled Chelsea’s presidential career, they would be engaging in political robber barony the “right” way, like the Kennedys and the Bushes and the Gores and the Cheneys. But because HIllary didn’t wait for her husband to die before inheriting his political office, its unseemly…

    Yeah….

  35. Raoul says:

    Absolutely nothing to see here- this is how the real world works- totally legal and doing some good on top of it- the fact that JJ sees it as unseemly says more about him than anything else- specially as he must surely know on how the right engages in similar activities but without the charity. It is almost as if he wished that Bill Clinton was not doing any good. And yes Bill and Hillary are different persons with different degrees of responsibility (it is ridiculous that it needs to be stated),

  36. al-Ameda says:

    This country runs on money, more than any other advanced country we worship money.

    Most American people aspire to have jobs that compensate them well, or they ‘aspire’ to win a lottery in order to have millions of dollars. Many people see an individual’s accumulation of wealth as evidence of achievement, sometimes a measure of superior intelligence. The Supreme Court, in Citizens United, said that money equals free speech, and yet we constantly complain about money in politics.

    It’s a stale kabuki that we go through every 2 two years.

  37. barbintheboonies says:

    @Pch101: I understand perfectly I just do not go along to get along. Why is it okay for Senators to go after people in sports for betting and using performance enhancing drugs, but their own kind not so much Be real. We always pick and choose what BS we will accept.

  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: Exactly! This is a nothing burger–with no cheese, no special sauce, and no fries to boot!

    Shorter James: A former Clinton White House employee now works as an agent/consultant and has taken his former employer on as a celebrity speechmaker-type client. In the process of securing very lucrative deals (most likely based on the specific celebrity of said client) has attracted donations to said clients charity–each donor signing a no-pay-for-play agreement regarding the celebrity wife’s current role in government. Color me shocked!

    CDS strong in this one is.

  39. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: On a plain, mass market hamburger bun–with no sesame seeds.

  40. wr says:

    Hey James — I think all the trivial parts of the argument are being well handled by all sides, so let me ask the most important question about your post:

    What did it mean when you said you would be “out of pocket”? From the context I assume it means unavailable for a while, but the only way I’ve ever heard the phrase used refers to spending your own money, especially when some other party should be picking up the tab. Is this a military thing? Southern? Inquiring minds — well, this one, anyway — want to know…

  41. Steve V says:

    There are a few right-wing critiques of the foundation. One is that it’s a “slush-fund,” which I think is probably nonsense and it looks like JJ does too.

    The other one is the access issue, and that’s the interesting issue. However, as usual with these accusations of scandal, no context is given so it’s hard to judge it since it’s coming from people who think everything the Clintons do is corrupt per se.

    Have the Clintons put in place any “ethical walls” or whatever to address Hillary holding public office? If they have, is there any reason to think they aren’t honoring them? These types of things are generally satisfactory for the rest of the world, no reason they shouldn’t be for the Clintons.

    The quoted material above doesn’t even talk about this. It just tries to make things like “in-kind services” sound nefarious.

  42. Pch101 says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    You didn’t answer my question.

    If you wanted to raise that kind of money for a cause, then how would you do it?

  43. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Follow Up: At its rock-bottom worst, isn’t this *exactly* the sort of money for access “speech” that the Roberts Court decided was totally legitimate in Citizen’s United?

  44. barbintheboonies says:

    @Pch101: Well if it was legit why not have checks payable to where the money is going. If they are just being kind souls. Why would I give a million or more dollars to a charity knowing full well more than half is going to the person asking for it. Why were people outraged when they found out so many other charities were doing the same thing. So you go on believing what you want, but I feel if it walks and talks like a duck many times it is.

  45. The laws regarding charities and charitable foundations are fairly complex and vary from state to state, and this isn’t an area I can say I’m entirely familiar with, but the only accusations ever made regarding the Clinton Foundation that would seem to me would have any weight would be the whole ‘pay for play’ implication and whether or not businesses, foreign or domestic, and other interests that donated to the Foundation received favorable treatment at the State Department in some tangible way in exchange for that donation. As far as I know this would require more than just a donor *thinking* that donating to the Foundation would be helpful but the existence of some stated or implied quid pro quo in exchange for donations. That’s long been the accusation about the Foundation, and it was the reason why the Obama Administration insisted upon an agreement regarding foreign donations before HRC was named Secretary of State, but there has never been any solid proof of a quid pro quo.

    Beyond that, whether or not there are any other legal issues involving the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Global Initiative is something that only someone better versed in the relevant law would know.

  46. Pch101 says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    You’re very good at not answering questions. I can only presume that is because you know that an accurate, reasonable answer would contradict all of the things that you would prefer to believe.

    One more time: If you wanted to raise that money, then how would you do it?

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Why would I give a million or more dollars to a charity knowing full well more than half is going to the person asking for it

    I’m not sure where you got this impression, but 100% of the money donated to the Clinton foundation goes to the charity. The Clinton’s don’t get a dime.

    The commenter above was talking about the money the Clinton’s earn from books, speeches, etc. They give 10% to charity, pay taxes at a 34% rate and they use the rest however they see fit.

  48. James Joyner says:

    @wr: I’m not sure from whence the phrase derives. I was just not going to have computer access for a couple hours.

  49. Tony W says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Why does it really bother you.

    If you hit the key to the right of the period (and hold down , your questions can end in a question mark.

    /s

  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Why would I give a million or more dollars to a charity knowing full well more than half is going to the person asking for it.

    Your facts are wrong. The money donated to the Clinton Foundation goes to the Clinton Foundation, not to Bill and Hillary Clinton. You must be thinking of the Trump Foundation.

  51. Gavrilo says:

    The Clinton Foundation is an amazing charity. It’s just a coincidence that just about the entire senior staff of Hillary’s Presidential campaign worked there at one point or another between 2008 and 2016. The Clinton’s are just better at this than everyone else!! Clinton Derangement!! Bush did it!! Nothingburger!!

  52. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    On a certain level, I can appreciate the concerns. However, the handwringing seems to be motivated largely by a lack of knowledge of how people at this level operate.

    There are a lot of motivations for prominent donors to fund these kinds of causes, varying from mutual backscratching to self-promotion to shaming. Direct quid pro quo trades are unlikely — not only are they bad form, but they also create strings that are otherwise unnecessary. (There’s no need to sell favors when you’re going to get them, anyway — the Clinton name alone will help to raise cash because people at the level will want to be associated with it for the sake of it.)

  53. al-Ameda says:

    @Gavrilo:

    The Clinton’s are just better at this than everyone else!! Clinton Derangement!! Bush did it!! Nothingburger!!

    I will grant you that 9 Republican investigations of Hillary Clinton’s responsibility for those 4 deaths of American diplomatic staff in Benghazi certainly does equal “Clinton Derangement!!”

  54. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    To Barbi: “Help us by explaining who these “others” are and how much they “lost” as a result of the Clinton’s keeping half of their earnings.

    Still awaiting your investigation ….

  55. Gustopher says:

    What’s nice about this is that since it is such a large organization with so many donors, a thorough investigation is bound to show that someone got access to the Secretary of State that “shouldn’t have”, and that the State Department moved in the way that person wanted them to.

    It can all be perfectly innocuous — decisions on who the Secretary of State meets with are entirely subjective, and the State Department does make decisions and do things. Short of never meeting donors, and never meeting with people unless we have already decided to thwart them at every turn, there are going to be some donors who met with Clinton, and who be edited by State Department actions.

    It’s great. Devoid of context, you can then create a story about a pattern of abuse and the State Department For Sale out of entirely innocuous events.

    Obviously the Clintons should have never done anything to help anyone. It’s the easiest way to ensure neither a conflict of interest nor the appearance of a conflict.

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner: @wr:

    My lawyer also uses the phrase and the first time I too was confused. Then I remembered: he’s a lawyer, nothing ever comes from his pocket.

  57. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnMcC:

    This resulted in a charity that does a great deal of very good stuff for some of the poorest people in the world.

    This is actually where I lack facts. Some of my acquaintances assert that the Clinton Foundation is so bad that it’s a net negative — that (e.g.) Haiti would have been better off if the CF had just stayed away. If that’s true, and the Clintons (and their friends) are lining their pockets from it, I have a whole lot more problem with them than if their charity is actually doing good in the world.

  58. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Why were people outraged when they found out so many other charities were doing the same thing?

    At least recently I’ve only heard of one such charity: The Trump Foundation.

    You can read the Clinton Foundation IRS Form 990 here beginning at page 27.
    In it you will see the compensation of all the key people – here’s a clue: Clinton’s aren’t among them.

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds: et al,

    Re: “out of pocket” meaning ‘unavailable’.

    The OED lists it as US regional, with the earliest citation being to an O. Henry story from 1908:

    1908 ‘O. Henry’ Buried Treasure in Ainslee’s July 69/2 “Just now she is out of pocket. And I shall find her as soon as I can.”

    Grammarist.com refines the definition to include an implication of “shirking duties”, and points to a long thread at Language Log discussing the possible origins. Consensus seems to be that it has its origins in the legal profession.

  60. R.Dave says:

    @michael reynolds: My lawyer also uses the phrase and the first time I too was confused.

    I’m a lawyer myself, and I can confirm that this is a pretty common phrase among lawyers. I’d say I encounter it (or use it) at least once a week. Basically, any time someone is unavailable for a period of time, they might say they’re “out of pocket” for that time.

  61. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: Having watched this circus for 20 some years, I am tired of it and wish it would finally leave town. Now, it looks like I’ll have to put up with 8 more years of it. (

  62. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: Having watched this circus for 20 some years, I am tired of it and wish it would finally leave town. Now, it looks like I’ll have to put up with 8 more years of it. (The Joyner as associated clown part is particularly fatiguing. I probably should just stop clicking on any of his articles that have the word “Clinton” in them.)

  63. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Don’t know how the comment got posted as a partial, but for the record, the parenthetical statement was not an addition and is part of the original post as devised in my ignorant, crackeresque mind.

  64. Grewgills says:

    @wr:
    My guess is it is a football reference, but that seems a bit strained.

  65. Davebo says:

    Wikileaks, good. Hacked emails from foreign power. No problem. Undoubtedly criminal but bleh.

    3 pages of an old Trump tax return most likely leaked by his ex wife who also signed said return? Horrific over the line act on the part of the media for publishing those 3 pages. Possibly criminal.

    We got it James.

  66. barbintheboonies says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Really that is the only one. look up charities and percentages of money actually going to poor or whatever and most is for organization itself. The best was Salvation Army they took the least. Others some taking 95% Tell me something though. If you were to come to an event to see a speaker that cost so much and you gave an enormous amount of money besides that for a charity would you want that money to go to the poor or whatever instead of a millionaire. I know you are not that naïve anyone who has watched the God father can figure it out. I get these guys have to play some games but it is getting worse on whichever side your on. The country was in the toilet when I was younger now It is a cesspool and we allow it to get ever worse by the day. They do not even try to hide it anymore. So keep up the charade of my side is better than your side because we don`t do what those guys do if it makes you feel better.

  67. MarkedMan says:

    From the Grammarist

    1) It’s a phrasal adjective or adverbial phrase meaning paid in cash or paid without expectation of reimbursement.
    2)It means out of reach, especially while shirking one’s official duties.
    3)It means out of or deprived of money. This sense is primarily British.
    The origin of the first sense (and the closely related third sense) is obvious. Cash is usually kept in the pocket, so to pay out of pocket is to pay in cash. The second sense is more mysterious. The OED lists it as a U.S. phrase and includes one example from over a century ago (and we can find no examples from earlier, but there may be a few buried among the many instances of out of pocket in its other senses). Other sources call it an American Southernism, and it seems to appear especially often in American politics.

  68. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    Chartity Watch is one of the most well-respected evaluators of public charities in the United States. They give the Clinton Foundation an A rating.

    Only 12% of the money raised by the Clinton Foundation goes to administrative overhead costs.

    Clinton tends to underestimate the number of people around the world who have received affordable HIV treatment due to collaborative efforts among WHO, PEPFAR, the United Nations, and the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has helped to funds treatment for over 10 million people globally in the past 15 years.

  69. An Interested Party says:

    One would think that after disastrously losing yet another presidential election, Republicans would want to stop and reflect on what they need to do to present a better image/message to the American people…instead, they suffer from the intellectual disability of Shiny Object Syndrome…the shiny object, of course, being the Clintons…

  70. Scott O says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    The country was in the toilet when I was younger now It is a cesspool

    Can I ask why you feel this way. I happen to think this country is pretty damn good and generally getting better.

    @Jen:

    On the Wikileaks authenticity issue: wasn’t there already a case where it was identified that they were modified? A reporter caught a segment of an email that was supposedly written by person A to person B, but the text was actually lifted from one of his articles?

    I think what happened is that Sidney Blumenthal forwarded an article and a Russian news agency claimed that the words were Blumenthal’s.

    http://www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-sidney-blumenthal-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-benghazi-sputnik-508635

  71. James Joyner says:

    @Stonetools: Powell has endorsed the Democratic nominee three times running; he is a de facto Democrat at this point.

  72. James Joyner says:

    @Davebo: First, I made it very clear in this post and elsewhere that I’m troubled that stolen documents, including these, are now a routine basis for news. Second, I never claimed that the NYT acted criminally; rather, I claimed that the documents were stolen and that it was unethical to publish them. Wikileaks is somewhat different in that they’re stolen and then directly made available to the public. If WaPo didn’t publish this story, someone else would have.

  73. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Powell has endorsed the Democratic nominee three times running; he is a de facto Democrat at this point.

    Oh, please.

    I know this is very hard for you to comprehend, but there are a lot of us out here who do not (usually) think in terms of team loyalty. We care about policies, and agendas, and priorities.

    When one of the two available ‘teams’ adopts a platform of obstruction, trashing the economy, bigotry in the name of religious freedom, and outright racism, we vote for the other team. No matter whose T-shirts and jerseys we own.

    EVERY intelligent, caring American is a “de facto Democrat” at this point, by your definition. I don’t think this phrase means what you think it means.

  74. Davebo says:

    @James Joyner:

    First, I made it very clear in this post and elsewhere that I’m troubled that stolen documents , including these, are now a routine basis for news.

    I’ve read this post 3 times now and it’s obvious you have a strange concept of “very clear” James.

    Unless of course “very clear” to you means “didn’t mention it at all”.

    Did you read the post?

  75. Davebo says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not going to go back and read your post on the tax document leak again James.

    Given it was from a while back and you can’t seem to remember what you wrote here a few hours ago and also given the justified pushback you got from commenters on your faux outrage over the publishing of those documents I’m thinking you may be misremembering what you wrote in that post as well.

  76. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @barbintheboonies: I’ll really try to be kind and patient with you.
    Your post was incoherent.

  77. Matt says:

    @barbintheboonies: The money going into the CLinton foundation is being used for charitable purposes which is why it has a higher rating than the red cross..

    Here is the 990 tax form from 2014 (the newest you can get) fully filled out and with additional information if you want to know what is happening to the money. Don’t rely on someone else telling you what to think.

    https://www.clintonfoundation.org/sites/default/files/clinton_foundation_report_public_2014.pdf

  78. JohnMcC says:

    @DrDaveT: Many thanks to our friends above

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    and

    @Matt:

  79. Pch101 says:

    Barb wants to be pissed off. No data or links are going to help.

  80. Tillman says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I know this is very hard for you to comprehend, but there are a lot of us out here who do not (usually) think in terms of team loyalty.

    Excepting all the people who took “Bernie Sanders is not a real Democrat” as a serious demerit during the primaries, sure, those people who care about policy over team loyalty presumably exist.

  81. DrDaveT says:

    @Tillman:

    Excepting all the people who took “Bernie Sanders is not a real Democrat” as a serious demerit during the primaries

    1. “A lot of people have blue eyes” is not a refutation of “a lot of people don’t have blue eyes”.
    2. Primaries are intramural elections within a club; it’s not surprising when club members object to candidates from outside the club. This is irrelevant when discussing what fraction of people actually belong to any club, or whether having recently preferred the candidates from Club A automatically makes you a member of Club A.

  82. Pch101 says:

    Bernie Sanders is an independent, not a Democrat.

    You don’t have to believe me. Take it from Bernie Sanders:

    His previous 16 years in the House of Representatives make him the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history.

    http://www.sanders.senate.gov/about

  83. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: Thank you! Real information on the internet — how cool.

  84. wr says:

    @barbintheboonies: “The country was in the toilet when I was younger now It is a cesspool and we allow it to get ever worse by the day. ”

    Say, are you single? Because there’s a gentlemen around these parts, goes by the name of The Q, and I think you two fun kids would really hit it off!

  85. Franklin says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The Clinton’s are sleazy not because of any quid pro quo, but because many of the people donating to their charity are doing it for self-serving reasons?

    Again, I’m going with unseemly rather than sleazy. And access for money *is* quid pro quo.

    The heart of the matter is whether you think people should be able to influence politics with money. Personally, I’m resigned to the fact that business and government need to be adversarial – they have completely different goals.

  86. DrDaveT says:

    @Franklin:

    The heart of the matter is whether you think people should be able to influence politics with money.

    Not really. For one thing, that ship has sailed. There are a hundred law firms on K Street NW that sell nothing but access to legislators.

    More importantly, the real question is “To what extent is Hillary Clinton willing to do things she thinks are bad for America because a foreign billionaire or government donated money to the Clinton Foundation and scored a private dinner with her?” I happen to think the answer to that question is “to a negligible degree”; your mileage may vary.