Did Hillary Clinton Do Favors For Bill’s Clients?

A series of media reports questions whether former New York Senator and Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton gave special treatment to donors to Bill Clinton’s charity.  AP’s Sharon Theimer has what appears to be the lead story.

Secretary of State appointee Hillary Rodham Clinton intervened at least six times in government issues directly affecting companies and others that later contributed to her husband’s foundation, an Associated Press review of her official correspondence found. The overlap of names on former President Bill Clinton’s foundation donor list and business interests whose issues she championed raises new questions about potential ethics conflicts between her official actions and her husband’s fundraising. The AP obtained three of the senator’s government letters under the Freedom of Information Act.

[…]

The letters and donations involve pharmaceutical companies and telecommunications and energy interests. An aide to the senator said she made no secret of her involvement in many of the issues. Bill Clinton’s foundation declined to say when it received the donations or precisely how much was contributed.

The story details specific interventions on behalf of PAETEC Communications, Merck pharmaceuticals, Bar Laboratories, and KeySpan Corp (now National Grid). All paid to join Bill’s Clinton Global Initiative and got intervention by Hillary Clinton. Given the amounts involved ($10,000 to $20,000 a year) and the sequences (sometimes HRC action preceded them joining CGI) the overlap of a handful of names is hardly proof of misfeasance. It does, however, highlight the inevitable “appearance of impropriety” issues when a husband and wife are both involved in extremely high level activities, especially those which overlap.

The WSJ editorial page warns,

Here is the spectacle of a former President circling the globe to raise at least $492 million over 10 years for his foundation — much of it from assorted rogues, dictators and favor-seekers. We are supposed to believe that none of this — and none of his future fund-raising — will have any influence on Mrs. Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State.

The silence over this is itself remarkable. When Henry Kissinger was invited merely to co-chair the 9/11 Commission, the political left went bonkers about his foreign clients. In this case we have a Secretary of State nominee whose husband may have raised more than $60 million from various Middle East grandees, and Washington reacts with a yawn. Maybe someone will even ask about it at her nomination hearing today.

That’s not unreasonable. While I have no love lost for the Clintons, especially Bill, what I’ve read of his Global Initiative and related related post-White House endeavors his been glowingly positive. There is, however, a certain awkwardness to having him go around with a tin cup in hand and having not only his considerable personal charm but also the specter of his wife’s high office as negotiating tools.

We’re simply in uncharted territory here. We’ve simply never had a former First Lady with anything like Mrs. Clinton’s political power. The closest we’ve had is Eleanor Roosevelt; and Franklin was dead and buried by that point.

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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. That headline is um, well, you might want to rethink it.

  2. Franklin says:

    I think these concerns are well founded. But I don’t think the silence is some big conspiracy – I think many conservatives are still relieved that Obama picked someone relatively hawkish for SoS.

    The best we can hope for is the maximum amount of transparency. And when conflicts of interest come up (and how could they not?), the media should scrutinize every move.

  3. Bithead says:

    As I describe in my Pajamas Media piece of the other day, questions abuot Hillary and ethics are nothing new. This is merely one more in the pattern.

  4. markm says:

    That headline is um, well, you might want to rethink it.

    AWE GROSSSSSS.

    The best we can hope for is the maximum amount of transparency. And when conflicts of interest come up (and how could they not?), the media should scrutinize every move.

    I know the next admin isn’t on duty yet but there’s been a few articles of late stating he’s not exactly transparent with the press.

  5. Drew says:

    Given his history, when I read the headline I had a similar visceral reaction. Until I saw Charle’s comment I didn’t want to go there, lest I be accused of losing all sense of perspective and propriety.

    At least now I know I have company in the madhouse….

  6. I think it’s interesting that Bill wouldn’t release his info for millions of voters, but he did it for 100 Senators.

  7. Or 98 senators.

  8. Franklin says:

    I know the next admin isn’t on duty yet but there’s been a few articles of late stating he’s not exactly transparent with the press.

    “he” being Obama? The one who took the unprecedented step of distributing an analysis of his current stimulus plan to the press?

    Compared to the Bush administration, Obama is basically see-through.

  9. Franklin says:

    By the way, Obama was the one who forced Bill & Hill to release all those donor records anyway. So maybe by “he” you meant Bill?

  10. markm says:

    “he” being Obama? The one who took the unprecedented step of distributing an analysis of his current stimulus plan to the press?

    He be that guy…Obama. I’m sure he’s more forthright with positive information versus something damaging…who wouldn’t be. I’m just telling you there has been a few articles out there, from the press, saying he is less than forward.

  11. tom p says:

    I’m just telling you there has been a few articles out there, from the press, saying he is less than forward.

    Markm: He is a politician. Any one who expected more is a fool.

  12. markm says:

    Markm: He is a politician. Any one who expected more is a fool.

    A lot of those “fools” that voted for him based on his campaign rhetoric are turning slightly sour for these little zig’s and zag’s. The press is one of em’ apparently.