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.