Will Clinton Foundation Be A Liability For Hillary Clinton?

Do the nonprofit's foreign donors create a conflict of interest?

Texas From Hillary

Once again, the Clinton Foundation is being cited as creating a conflict of interest for Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions.

AP (“For Clinton, her family foundation may pose campaign risks“):

The foundation launched by former President Bill Clinton more than a decade ago has battled HIV and AIDS in Africa, educated millions of children and fed the poor and hungry around the globe. It also has the potential to become a political risk for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she moves toward a second presidential campaign.

The former secretary of state has struggled with some recent bad headlines over large donations given to the foundation by foreign governments in the past two years, and the $200 million-plus the organization has raised since 2013, ahead of her anticipated White House campaign.

Republicans contend that foreign governments donating to a foundation led by a potential U.S. president creates unacceptable conflicts of interests. Also, the involvement of big money reinforces a long-standing narrative pushed by the GOP of the Clintons as a couple who frequently mix business and politics.

“Unless Hillary Clinton immediately reinstates the ban on foreign countries giving to her foundation and returns the millions of dollars these governments have already donated, she’s setting an incredibly dangerous precedent,” said the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. “The American people are not about to elect a president in Hillary Clinton who could expose them to the demands of foreign governments because they dumped massive sums of cash into her foundation.”

This comes across as concern trolling, given that Priebus would surely be happy if the Democrats nominated a candidate he was confident the American people would reject. But it’s not just Republicans asking these questions. While almost all of the high level Democrats quoted in the piece defend Clinton, some are skeptical:

Yet the influx of corporate and foreign money just before a potential Hillary Clinton campaign has caused some anxiety within her party.

“There was a reason they stopped taking foreign government donations when Hillary was secretary of state,” said Mike Carberry, a Johnson County, Iowa, supervisor and former county Democratic chairman. He said the foundation should reinstate the policies used from 2009 to 2013. “It doesn’t seem right.”

The Foundation has taken a compromise position in the past:

The foundation, which is scheduled to hold events in Morocco and Greece this spring, defended its financial support and addressed how it might function if Clinton runs for president. If she seeks office again, something taken as a given by most, the foundation said it would ensure its policies and practices are “appropriate, just as we did when she served as secretary of state.”

In 2009, when Clinton became President Barack Obama’s chief diplomat, the foundation stopped raising money from foreign governments. The fundraising involving non-U.S. entities resumed in 2013, after she left his administration.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported the foundation had received money in 2014 from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and others. The Washington Post reported the charity has raised nearly $2 billion since the former president started it in 2001. About one-third of its donations of $1 million or more come from foreign governments or non-U.S. entities, the newspaper found.

Now, I tend to be skeptical of the notion that donations, whether to campaigns or foundations, impact decision-making all that much. But there’s no denying that they buy access. So, while I don’t think the amount of money given by Morocco, Greece, Saudi Arabia, etc. would change the foreign policy decisions of a President Hillary Clinton one iota, she’ll presumably be aware that they’d been generous to the Clinton Foundation.  And, to the extent that impacts the Clinton foreign policy, I’m not sure why it matters whether the money came in while she was a private citizen.

Many of the same donors to the Clintons’ political campaigns have given money to the foundation. Dennis Cheng, a former Hillary Clinton campaign fundraiser, recently left the foundation as its chief development officer and is expected to be a top fundraiser for her expected campaign.

The examination of the foundation’s finances come as many Democrats want Clinton to take on a more populist economic agenda that would demand more oversight of Wall Street firms. It also follows efforts by Democrats to scrutinize Republican Mitt Romney’s business practices in 2012 and tie Republican candidates to millions of dollars provided by the Koch Brothers and their business interests.

Beyond the headlines, many Democrats say it shows the need for Clinton to begin actively campaigning and build an apparatus better suited to rapidly respond to these types of critiques.

“There’s a vacuum,” said Tom Henderson, the chairman of the Polk County, Iowa, Democrats, who noted potential candidates such as former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb are visiting soon. “She isn’t doing anything” in Iowa, he said.

There’s something to that, I suppose, but given that she’s the odds-on frontrunner even moreso than she was in 2008, it’s very much in her interest to delay becoming a formal candidate as long as possible. She has essentially frozen the race at this point.

At the end of the day, I don’t think the Foundation will be a major campaign issue. If anything, it’s likely more a positive than a negative given the general sense that it’s doing good work. But nonprofits inevitably take money from people of questionable motivation and character.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, 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. Dave Schuler says:

    I think this issue is a nothingburger. Like Bill himself the foundation will be a net positive.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Never been a problem before. But then IOKIYAR.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Check me on this:
    Ginnie Thomas makes a living lobbying against Obamacare…but her husband needn’t recuse himself from any decisions regarding Obamacare…because there is no conflict of interest.
    But Bill’s foundation should reconsider who it takes money from because Rinse Pubis thinks it will force HIllary to

    “…expose them (Americans) to the demands of foreign governments…”

    No doubt he is talking about Sharia law…can’t you hear the dog whistle? More rank hypocrisy from the Party of Stupid.
    OTB is taking this more seriously than the on-going Rudy meltdown and the battle of who can say the stupidest thing about Obama?

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Like I said above, IOKIYAR.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Hillary needs to impose strict rules on donations. Stories like this are only harmful if they fit into an existing narrative, and this does. The narrative is that Hillary is “establishment,” too cozy with the 1%. It’s Mitt Romney’s car elevator – it supports and amplifies an on-going story. She needs to watch that stuff because it takes on a life of its own.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Ginnie Thomas makes a living lobbying against Obamacare…but her husband needn’t recuse himself from any decisions regarding Obamacare…because there is no conflict of interest.

    By the way: Justice Thomas should have been removed from the Supreme Court for willfully not disclosing Virginia’s affiliation with the Heritage Foundation, over a period of many years.

    On topic: only Republicans like Priebus have no problem with (1) the Koch Brothers bankrolling all manner of Republicans candidates and causes, (2) no transparency whatsoever in general campaign funding, and predictably, they fake up the concern over The Clinton Foundation.

    This is standard empty calorie political junk food stuff:
    Republicans “care,” so-called “independents” “care,” and Democrats do not..

  7. Gustopher says:

    Now, I tend to be skeptical of the notion that donations, whether to campaigns or foundations, impact decision-making all that much. But there’s no denying that they buy access.

    And you somehow think that getting access to the politicians is useless?

    On the big picture, I don’t think it is going to make someone change their mind on a major issue that is one of the politicians core issues — no amount of friendly chats from planned parenthood lobbyists is going to make Ted Cruz come out in favor of abortion rights — but on all the minor issues and the things the politician doesn’t quite understand… Do they really want to disappoint that nice man from Goldman Sachs who they see every month or so, or is it ok that retirement fund advisors be held to a standard of providing suitable advice rather than a stronger fiduciary standard?

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    But it’s not just Republicans asking these questions. While almost all of the high level Democrats quoted in the piece defend Clinton, some are skeptical: Yet the influx of corporate and foreign money just before a potential Hillary Clinton campaign has caused some anxiety within her party. “There was a reason they stopped taking foreign government donations when Hillary was secretary of state,” said Mike Carberry, a Johnson County, Iowa, supervisor and former county Democratic chairman.

    Say what now? You claim that “it’s not just Republicans who are skeptical” and then cite, as an example of a skeptical Democrat, Mike Carberry, a Johnson County, Iowa supervisor and former county Democratic chairman???

    I mean, I realize that as goes Mike Carberry, Johnson County, Iowa supervisor and former county Democratic chairman, so goes the nation, but you don’t think that the fact that the author couldn’t actually find someone a bit more important than Mike Carberry, Johnson County, Iowa supervisor and former county Democratic chairman, to be critical indicate that, perhaps, it is only really Republicans who are skeptical?

  9. Will Taylor says:

    It’s a problem if its found that any of these foreign governments and companies were lobbying the State Dept and received favors while Hillary was there. It’s also classic Pay for Play which mostly
    everyone in DC is guilty of. The most likely scenario is that this will be near forgotten in a month, and shouldn’t have any long term effect on Hillary.

  10. Modulo Myself says:

    I would say it’s already affected her. She did not beat Obama in 2008 because she was the status quo candidate. This is how you become the status quo candidate–by having your husband be an ex-President soliciting money from the global elite.

    Obviously 2008 will not repeat itself. There’s not another Obama out there. The best bet for the Republicans has his own status quo issues. But she ran a losing campaign in 2008. I’m guessing in 2007 her supporters were like there’s no reason to think that your place in the establishment will matter. Nobody saw Obama coming. And it’s worth pointing out that Al Gore ran a losing campaign while having to deal with the same media-driven stuff about money and phoniness that Hillary will have, even as he ran against a halfwit in the pocket of his father’s officials and energy money.

  11. Davebo says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    In fairness to James the Justice of the Peace for Sheridan County North Dakota was unavailable for comment.

    But really, both sides agree this is a huge conflict!

  12. Barfour says:

    From what I know, the Clinton foundation does charity and good work. That is a good thing. If it were a Republican presidential candidate that had an association with a foundation like the Clintons’, no one would ask if it was a liability. Everyone would be talking endlessly about the good things that the foundation does and how it reflects the values of the candidate. Can anyone imagine what people will be saying if Hillary Clinton was a governor and Sheldon Adelson had used his money to try and get her to veto legislation legalizing online gambling, like he did with Chris Christie?

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    OTB is taking this more seriously than the on-going Rudy meltdown

    Or the Bill O’Really melt-down, for that matter.

  14. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You make a good point about stories fitting into an existing narrative. What I’m not sure about is whether it makes much difference.

    I think that Sec. Clinton’s name recognition is as close to 100% as it can be by this point and just about everybody who knows who she is has made up their minds one way or another already. Look at the McClatchy-Marist poll just to take an example. 2% undecided in a Clnton vs. Bush race.

  15. Moosebreath says:

    As always where campaign finance is concerned, the horrible stuff is not what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal. This is the sort of thing that should be illegal, with the spouse of a candidate accepting monies from foreign governments. That it is not is a matter we should be ashamed of.

    I also agree with those above saying this makes Hillary look like part of the global elite, and enables an opponent (in either the primary or the general) to appear more populist than she in a year where that is likely going to be an advantage.

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    Anyone who has an idea about how Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton could make a successful run as a populist should not be giving it out for free here.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Oh, I don’t think it moves the needle at all right now. I think it serves as support for some story yet to come. I don’t know what that story will be, but there will be one. It could end up feeling like foreshadowing.

    There is an odor about the Clintons. I voted for him, I’ll vote for her, but there’s a definite smell rising from those two, and anything that gives weight to that vague disquiet is potentially dangerous. And let’s not forget that she may be facing an opponent with a similar issue and by virtue of this be unable to exploit it.

    To my Democratic friends upstream I’d say, remember that logical arguments play almost no role in electoral politics. Your ability or my ability to point to equivalents among Republicans will either be irrelevant, or will contribute to a general cynicism which is not what we want.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’ll take that challenge.

    1) A clean-sweep divestiture. Hillary gives a press conference and details all her investments, all her board memberships, foundations, etc., admits that while each of these is innocent, it looks bad. She cuts all such ties. Then, she avoids calling on Republicans to do the same. Republicans, being Republicans, they’ll dither and stall, and then one of the pack will break and follow suit. She’ll be seen as setting the agenda, they’ll be seen as recalcitrant.

    2) Put together a plan the essence of which is: Now that Obama’s fixed the economy, we can start to do the things we’ve put off. Equal pay for women. Child care support. Go after employers who steal tens of billions from their employees. Some bold new infrastructure move, say a smart power grid, something that will create jobs and do long-term good. Support Keystone but only with onerous environmental regulations, and a deal with the companies requiring them to actually create the number of jobs they keep citing.

    3) Manage to be videotaped “surreptitiously” doing human things, slightly embarrassing things. Say, singing Karaoke. Better yet helping a harried mother with her diaper bag. Make her seem human, remind us she’s a mommy. Break a heel going up to give a speech, laugh, kick off both shoes and proceed. This kind of stuff though has to be held so tightly – 2 or 3 people, trusted people.

    4) For God’s sake craft some lines to deal with the inevitable Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, Benghazi questions. Don’t refuse to answer, answer well and completely, to the point of boredom. And don’t complain about it. Let others complain on your behalf. Republicans always overplay their hand, so let them, encourage them. But be ready for hits from the Left, too.

    Divest, propose, humanize and prepare.

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    If what one Republican school board member says about evolution becomes national news, then at least acknowledging that there are some Democrats that have reservations sounds responsible.

    But then again, since Clinton is a Democrat, the rules or ethnics or the appearance of impropriety do not really apply.

  20. Tony W says:

    I thought the Citizens-United advocates just finished telling us that donations have no bad influence on officeholders. What’s good for the goose….

  21. ernieyeball says:

    @superdestroyer:..If what one Republican school board member says about evolution becomes national news,..

    It would only b news if a GOP school board member (or presidential hopeful, or dog catcher) stated: “Genesis isn’t even a theory, it’s a fairy tale.”

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Oh, and:

    5) Wrap your loving arms around Elizabeth Warren. Talk about wishing you could clone her so she could serve in the Senate and be a top cabinet pick. Warren isn’t just red meat to the Left base, I suspect she’s got a sneaky appeal to elements on the Right. People are really sick of elections run by and for Goldman Sachs. Talk about getting grandma advice since Elizabeth has several and Hillary just one.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer: If your hypothetical school board member sits on the TX committee that de facto sets textbook standards for much of the country, yeah, that kind of would count a lot more than some “Johnson County, Iowa supervisor and former county Democratic chairman”. Or if he were the PA school board member that kicked off the Dover case.

    However, from the NYT – Asked in London if he believed in evolution Scott Walker said, “I’m going to punt on that one.” “Jeb Bush of Florida said it should not be taught in schools. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is an outright skeptic. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas will not talk about it. When asked, in 2001, what he thought of the theory, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, “None of your business.”” Profiles in courage, all.

    But thank you for not bringing up on one-party rule.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Oh, the rules apply, you people just suck at making a case. Flailing around with overblown accusations that turn out to be empty (Whitewater, Vince Foster, Benghazi) tends to inoculate. Best thing ever for the Clintons was that asinine attempt at impeachment. That was a great big needle full of antibiotics and antivirals.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    The problem is that Republicans don’t believe in evolution. And by the way, African-Americans are in there with them. Limited appeal in pushing evolution. Hillary will want to say “Yes, I believe in evolution, but no, I don’t believe in evolution without God.” The political sweet spot is divinely-guided evolution. That works.

  26. ernieyeball says:

    Here’s a pic of Hillary Clinton and two guys who look like they might have something to do with OPEC.
    I guess it is supposed to scare voters into thinking…something???
    Of course these same two fellows have been standing next to American Consumers at every filling station in the United States while they were pumping gas for the last 55 years.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/23/its-hillary-clinton-vs-elizabeth-warren-in-a-new-conservative-ad/

  27. michael reynolds says:

    This is cool. Mossad basically calls Netanyahu a liar. “Leaked” emails from Mossad contradict Bibi on the Iranian nuclear capability.

    I kinda don’t think Mossad likes Bibi.

  28. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    But then again, since Clinton is a Democrat, the rules or ethnics or the appearance of impropriety do not really apply.

    … and THAT’S how we roll here in the One-Party State.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: While I’m a thoroughgoing ignostic myself, absolutely. There is no necessary conflict between religion and Darwinian evolution. And Dems, who don’t have a fundie primary constituency should have no difficulty saying so.

  30. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Off-topic but IMO the Congressional Republicans are acting very imprudently when they cozy up to Mr. Netanyahu. I don’t think they recognize (or maybe care) when they’re taking sides in internal Israeli domestic political squabbles.

  31. ernieyeball says:

    @gVOR08:..There is no necessary conflict between religion and Darwinian evolution.

    Well. Some theology teaches that the Bible is the inerrant word of god. Even though Genesis was written by human beings who make mistakes.
    All those critters were created by god in seven 24 hour days.
    This is diametrically opposed to natural selection:

    Natural selection is the gradual process by which heritable biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of the effect of inherited traits on the differential reproductive success of organisms interacting with their environment. It is a key mechanism of evolution.

    I would necessarily call this a conflict.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    There’s a poll out showing a 10 point drop in Democratic support for Israel over the last year. Bibi is a disaster for Israel’s standing with its only relevant ally. Israel’s security should not rise or fall depending on the party in power in the US.

    And when did Israelis forget that one of the key elements of anti-semitic propaganda is the insinuation that we are more loyal to Israel than to our own countries? Ten years ago my president was named Bush, currently my president is named Obama, and in a couple of years it will be someone else, but it will not be Netanyahu.

    I have another beef with Bibi. He called on Jews to leave Denmark and move to Israel. This is an appalling insult to a country that during the Holocaust rescued 99% of their Jews. I’d trust myself and my family to the Danish people before I’d trust them to Netanyahu and Likud.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @ernieyeball: I leave theology to my brother, the Reverend, but that’s why I made a crack about Hillary not having a fundamentalist base to deal with. I believe most Christian denominations are OK with 7 days as a metaphor and evolution as God’s tool. I believe Catholics have been quite explicit about it. It’s only the fundie literalists who feel obliged to have a problem. I haven’t a clue about Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. belief, but they all seem to readily produce scientists who can maintain their faith and deal with Darwinian evolution.

    As to the fundie literalists, they weren’t going to vote for Hillary anyway. Although you’d think people who can believe in the inerrancy of inconsistent, contradictory scriptures might show a little more flexibility elsewhere. But somehow they’ve convinced a lot of people that it’s God or Darwin. A classic conservative false dichotomy.

  34. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I would necessarily call this a conflict.

    Well of course it’s a conflict if one side decides to create a conflict. The point is that there is no theological mandatory reason for a conflict to exist. Literalism isn’t the only game in town, you know :-).

  35. ernieyeball says:

    I believe most Christian denominations are OK with 7 days as a metaphor and evolution as God’s tool.

    Glad u can speak for most Christian denominations.
    When I think of god’s tools, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain come to mind.

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: And the evidence that they’re safer in Israel than Denmark seems thin.

  37. JohnMcC says:

    Did the Original Post express concern that a foreign government could gain ‘access’ to a future President HRC by giving to the Clinton Foundation today? Do we think that a foreign government feels it cannot gain ‘access’ to the American President? Unless I seriously misunderstand the argument, it’s is stupid on it’s face. Of course an American President gives access to “Morocco, Greece or Saudi Arabia” — that’s why they have those ‘ambassador’ people.

    If the argument is that a President HRC would favor a heavy Foundation donor above a government that does not donate a person of courage would come out and say so. We look for that person without hope here at OTB.

  38. ernieyeball says:

    Literalism isn’t the only game in town, you know…

    So there is more than one god?

  39. gVOR08 says:

    @ernieyeball: I’m not sure. Speaking of contradictory, I’ve always wondered about that “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” thing. I expect the response is no “false” gods, but then why didn’t He just say that? However many gods, way, way more interpretations.

  40. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I expect the response is no “false” gods, but then why didn’t He just say that?

    One can debate that all around (sources for both interpretations exist in the bible) but Isaiah seems pretty clear on this (“there is no God besides Me”). I would suggest it’s mostly a question of marketing language (“You shall venerate no figments of your imagination instead of me” just doesn’t have the same thunder :P).

  41. dmichael says:

    @michael reynolds: I don’t know what you do for a living but consider going into political consulting. That is the best short summary of political recommendations for Hilary I have yet seen. She would do well to follow them. NO sarcasm intended. She should dump Mark Penn and hire you.

  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Sure – there are literally hundreds, if not thousands. Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Jupiter, Isis, Ra, Thor, Odin, et al an infinitum. The list goes on (and on, and on, and on) …

    One of the best quotes I’ve ever read went something like

    “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    Religion is, by its very nature, an irrational belief structure. That doesn’t necessarily make it bad – it just makes it irrational. Personally? I could care less if someone prays to their washing machine if doing so helps them cope with life, but leave me alone and leave me out of it. I’ll extend you the same courtesy.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: My understanding (I think this comes from “A History of God”) was that at the time the commandments were adopted it was accepted that every group had their own gods. There were arguments about whose was more powerful but not about whether they were real. Yahweh was the god of the Jews. Further, there was an even older Hebrew tradition of a female deity coequal with Yahweh, but the Yahweh faction succeeded in deprecating down to mere mortal over the course of centuries. In that context a commandment that says “thou shalt not put other gods before me” makes a lot of sense.

  44. ernieyeball says:

    …leave me alone and leave me out of it. I’ll extend you the same courtesy.

    “Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone. I inquire after no man’s, and trouble none with mine.”
    Thomas Jefferson

  45. Tyrell says:

    @JohnMcC: There is the concern that many of those in high positions are members of the CFR and the Trilateral Commission. These are powerful and secretive organizations.

  46. bill says:

    eh, her drones are incapable of reality- they still think she’s one of them…….not some mega millionaire who’s fortunes expounded after her husband was president…
    but it’s the same crowd who don’t realize (or care to) that obama is on the brink of a similar fortune- he just has to run blindly through another 2 yrs of this “presidential” stuff…..

  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    This is the sort of thing that should be illegal, with the spouse of a candidate accepting monies from foreign governments.

    Bill Clinton has not accepted, nor otherwise received, any money.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a ‘foundation’? If not, you could (gasp) look it up.

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @dmichael:

    Hah! Thanks. I made a brief foray into political media, creating TV ads for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. In fact we won a Polly Award (Bronze, so, kind of an award, of sorts.) It was weirdly easy. I put on my big boy clothes (suit and tie) and arranged meetings with DCCC, DGA, DSCC and DLCC and whatever other initials we could find. Produced “reprogrammable” ads for a cycle, and then realized if I wanted to do this I’d have to move to DC, start remembering people’s names, kiss an amazing amount of ass, and generally hang around with a lot of boring people at cocktail parties.

    Then I weighed this against my current occupation, writing novels for teenagers (and soon for adults) and compared the lifestyles – sweat pants vs. suit, sweet isolation versus ass-kissing, three hour workdays on my deck smoking a cigar vs. all-nighters in some conference room. Even the travel is so much better in my current gig – Business class and four star hotels, $40 room service breakfasts and no one second-guessing my bar tab vs. a shared Travelodge room, drinking beer I bought at a gas station and eating take-out from what passes for a Chinese restaurant in Buttmunch, Iowa. . . Yeah, so, I’m sticking with what I’ve got.

    I like the game, but I’m sticking to the bleachers.

  49. Ben Wolf says:

    James Joyner

    So, what’s your argument here? That tens of millions in donations received just happened to line up with State Department lobbying on behalf of corporations and govrnments?

    Total coincidence?

  50. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: I don’t know. There is probably nothing there. I don’t think that any candidate could free themselves from every connection to foreign governments. And influence from wealthy individuals and corporations is just as bad. But I would have reservations about any politician with connections to the Knights Templar Endowment Fund !

  51. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “Bill Clinton has not accepted, nor otherwise received, any money.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a ‘foundation’?”

    I am well aware of what a foundation is. However, where so much of Bill Clinton’s personal efforts and ego is tied into the foundation’s works, are you so naive to believe that he is not personally aware of who the contributors to the foundation are and personally grateful to them?

    Or were just looking for any place where you could be condescendingly off base?

  52. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yup, those are good recommendations…Her consultants should treat her as a well-known/liked brand needing a slight reboot for the times. If she’s smart, she plays on her likability (which exists) and the respect people have for her and the weird folksiness she kind of has. She’s not Mitt Romney, who was the richest guy ever to run for President and yet was so unlikable that you couldn’t even find accusations that his detractors envied his wealth. I just don’t think she can do the ‘I’m with you’ stuff without botching it. Worst case: her campaign dusts off Fleetwood Mac and comes out fighting for the people. That could blow up for her, I think. Criticism and attacks are fine. She’s been around way too long to survive a collective eye-roll. The people she needs to reach in swing states have just enough irony not to be committed Republicans but not enough command of the facts to be driven forever away from Republicans.

  53. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    are you so naive to believe that he is not personally aware of who the contributors to the foundation are and personally grateful to them?

    **sigh** Guilt by association. What you use when you have no real dirt to pile on. This is 3rd party finger-pointing.

    The world is not clean and most people with power/money/influence are less so. As Micheal said earlier, there’s a “smell” that lingers and contact transfers like standing next to a smoker. You can tell they don’t smoke themselves but have been in proximity to one. Everyone has donors they want for the money and want out of the room as soon as possible or donors they’d rather the public not meet due to the smell. If you are waiting for money from someone who’s daisy-fresh, you will be a poor person indeed. Politics is not a game for the saintly and unless they are criminals or utterly distasteful haters a la Westboro, people you may find unsavory or not-appropriate are the name of the game.

    Would you have the charity refuse/return the money? If the answer is no, then you have no basis to blame the Clintons by proxy. If the foundation can accept without stigma, they are clear with their relationship to the foundation.

  54. Guarneri says:

    Give her a break. After all, she’s probably got post traumatic stress from surviving withering sniper fire.

  55. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “Would you have the charity refuse/return the money? If the answer is no, then you have no basis to blame the Clintons by proxy. If the foundation can accept without stigma, they are clear with their relationship to the foundation.”

    I think there are different standards which apply to people who are running for office than for the average citizen.

  56. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I think there are different standards which apply to people who are running for office than for the average citizen.

    Why?

    Seriously, you are a private citizen before you run for office. Your history is up for grabs at that point so shouldn’t the standards we hold politicians to be our everyday standards to keep it nice and clean? Why should we be ok with foreign governments give money to foundations when those employees could later go on to work or lobby in government?

    I think you want a politician on a pedestal instead of holding everyone to the same standard. If it’s dirty for Bill (private citizen BTW), it’s dirty for you. Why does it suddenly become hinky when it was perfectly ok at the time? Ex post facto social faux pas are commonplace so what makes this one stand out to you? Bill Clinton didn’t personally take the money, he didn’t spend any of it, he may never have met them in person (might not be aware of them but that is stretching it) so why try and pin this as a dirty deed on his wife who didn’t do a damn thing in all this? She the one running, remember.

  57. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “Seriously, you are a private citizen before you run for office. Your history is up for grabs at that point so shouldn’t the standards we hold politicians to be our everyday standards to keep it nice and clean? Why should we be ok with foreign governments give money to foundations when those employees could later go on to work or lobby in government?”

    No, the last sentence is exactly the point. People in government, and especially candidates for office, have more influence than private citizens, and corresponding must be held to a higher standard. If a foreign government wants to spend money to influence a private citizen, who cares? When they want to spend money to influence a person in government, or a person running for a position in government, that is a huge deal.

  58. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:

    “Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK — because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke — I didn’t say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire — that’s not what I was told, I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and, I can’t, I can’t rush by her, I’ve got to at least greet her — so I greeted her, I took her stuff and then I left. Now that’s my memory of it.”

    Once again the facts fail to square with your ideological biases.

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    are you so naive to believe that he is not personally aware of who the contributors to the foundation are and personally grateful to them?

    On reflection, yes, I guess I am naive enough to believe that:

    1. Bill Clinton feels no more personal gratitude to the wealthy folks he has talked into donating money to his causes than (say) I feel to organizations that award me grant money
    2. Hillary Clinton’s policy decisions aren’t much based on who Bill feels gratitude toward.

    If I’m right about either one of those, there’s nothing to see here. Even if I’m wrong about both of them, there’s probably still nothing to see here — it’s just too tenuous a link at third-hand.

    Let’s turn this around — if this is a conflict of interest worth worrying about, you’re going to have to recuse the entire Senate from every piece of legislation there is, because ALL of them have more substantial conflicts of interest with regard to everything they vote on. Is that really where you want to set the bar?

  60. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath: I’d add that if the government of Whereverstan bribes the CEO of ABC Corp to get his company to give them a better deal, that’s a bad thing, but it’s not my problem. If said CEO runs for prez, his cozy relationship with the dictator of Whereverstan suddenly becomes very much my legitimate concern.

  61. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    If a foreign government wants to spend money to influence a private citizen, who cares?

    Apparently, you do. Bill Clinton isn’t running for office. Neither is anyone from the Foundation to my knowledge. They are all private citizens so what’s your gripe?

    Your argument is thus: Foreign government – > Money -> Clinton Foundation, launched by Bill who is married to Hillary and is a private citizen -> “Undue Influence” on a spouse to not disappoint donors? -> Hillary-> ??? -> Profit!!! Unless the funds are going to her campaign or her personally, WTF do you care? You’re talking like she’s on the take. Where is this “influence” – do what I say or the charity gets it? That Bill will pressure his wife to do what the donors want? Does Hillary (or for that matter, Bill) actually do anything useful in the charity or is just for the photo-ops and speeches – I’m not aware she has any real decision making power that isn’t contingent on others.

    Again, you’re searching to connect what you see as a problem to someone tangentially related to an issue. Hillary is not Bill.

  62. KM says:

    @gVOR08:

    If said CEO runs for prez, his cozy relationship with the dictator of Whereverstan suddenly becomes very much my legitimate concern.

    If it was a bribe, hell yes be concerned. Hands out never pull back in.
    If it was a slightly shady one-time business deal but still on the up and up, welcome to Wall Street.
    If it was moral dubious and ongoing, your K Street welcome station is down the hall where your bought Senator is waiting. Take a ticket and bring a book, the line can get long.

  63. KM says:

    @DrDaveT:

    . 1. Bill Clinton feels no more personal gratitude to the wealthy folks he has talked into donating money to his causes than (say) I feel to organizations that award me grant money
    2. Hillary Clinton’s policy decisions aren’t much based on who Bill feels gratitude toward.

    (1) Totally. Bill seems like the “what have you done for me lately” kind of guy. He gets money from everybody – what makes these people so special for him to care? Someone calling in a favor might very well get a “Who are you again?”

    (2) Yeah, cuz women always do what their husbands say, amrite? It’s not like she’s her own person or anything – her hubby likes them so of course she’s gonna go out of her way to give them the works. There’s a subtle sexism in these accusations – Hillary can’t make decisions with Bill’s input in any way. He permeates her life to the point where she’s an extension of him. It’s bugging the daylights out of me that SHE’s being held accountable for things HIS charity does. Hillary is her own woman, just like Bill is his own man. He has no more say over her job and official actions then Laura did over Dubya.

  64. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    ” if this is a conflict of interest worth worrying about, you’re going to have to recuse the entire Senate from every piece of legislation there is, because ALL of them have more substantial conflicts of interest with regard to everything they vote on. Is that really where you want to set the bar?”

    While I would like to, I know who writes the rules. I also know that the people who are offering the bribes contributions are doing their best to bring them underground, precisely because they know this is considered shady by a significant number of people

    .@KM:

    “Apparently, you do. Bill Clinton isn’t running for office. Neither is anyone from the Foundation to my knowledge. They are all private citizens so what’s your gripe?”

    Well, except for Hillary:

    “In 2013, following the completion of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, she joined the foundation, where she planned to work on issues regarding women and small children as well as economic development. Accordingly at that point, it was renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.” (footnotes removed). That kinda blows up your argument.

  65. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Well, except for Hillary:

    “In 2013, following the completion of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, she joined the foundation,

    No it really doesn’t. If she was a private citizen at the time (first time in 30 years according to Wiki), then your contention earlier was it doesn’t matter. You need to make up your mind: is she allowed to do what she wants as a private citizen or not? If you plan to hold her accountable for acceptable actions taken as such when she decides to run for office, then why the hell do you feel they are acceptable in the first place then? This is Catch 22 territory – damned if you do or don’t. You’re basically saying she must live life as a private citizen according to your rules for a politician if she ever wants another political job despite not holding any other citizen up to that standard.

    I get it – you think it’s skeevy or underhanded. It may or may not be. But by your own standard, she’s done nothing wrong. You’re making a mountain out of a dirt pile. There’s plenty to question about Hillary without trying to argue she’s forming some sort of hinky long-term alliance with foreign agents solely on whether or not they donated to a charity.

  66. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “If you plan to hold her accountable for acceptable actions taken as such when she decides to run for office, then why the hell do you feel they are acceptable in the first place then?”

    I did not say the actions were acceptable as for a private citizen to take. I said I don’t care about them. In case it was not clear, I will amend that to say I don’t care for so long as they remain a private citizen.

    I care about the background of everyone who runs for office, which includes who has been bribing them contributing to their foundations. Your position seems to be that nothing a person does before they run for office is relevant to their campaign and will not be brought up by the opposition to smear them. If you really believe that, then yes, you are remarkably naive.

  67. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    No, I’m just not making a fuss over nothing. Bribing them? Seriously? For what?! Bill and Hillary were out of the game at that point – what was the “bribe” suppose to accomplish? FYI bribery is illegal – what you saying is they committed a crime. Think about what you’re saying; do you really think they did something illegal or just something you find morally dubious and disapprove of? Exaggerating the issue is one of the reasons I’m not taking this seriously – Soap Opera drama, this is not.

    I did not say the actions were acceptable as for a private citizen to take. I said I don’t care about them. In case it was not clear, I will amend that to say I don’t care for so long as they remain a private citizen. I care about the background of everyone who runs for office

    This makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like you think candidates appear out of thin air. You realize they have a life before the campaign, right? You’re trying to punish people for something you’re totally cool with ignoring until they want this particular job. My contention is announcing their running for office doesn’t change a damn thing about their character, actions or pasts. Therefore, caring after the announcement is made is like closing the door after the horse ran the Kentucky Derby – too little, too late. I’d rather hold them accountable BEFORE they run for office by holding Corporate and Regular America to the same standards as Congress Critters. Politicians reflect their electorate – you want a good candidate? Have a good pool to choose them from. This “I don’t care because it doesn’t directly affect me” attitude is exactly why we can’t have nice things. Caring about if someone is skeevy shouldn’t be limited to those running for high office.

  68. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “Bill and Hillary were out of the game at that point – what was the “bribe” suppose to accomplish?”

    Influencing her conduct when she seeks public office (and her seeking the Presidency this cycle is a surprise to exactly nobody).

    “It’s like you think candidates appear out of thin air. You realize they have a life before the campaign, right? You’re trying to punish people for something you’re totally cool with ignoring until they want this particular job.”

    It’s not that I am ignoring it — it’s that it is not a crime to exchange money for a service if you are not a public official or candidate. It shouldn’t fail to be considered bribery just because the transaction occurred prior to announcing one’s candidacy.

    “I’d rather hold them accountable BEFORE they run for office by holding Corporate and Regular America to the same standards as Congress Critters. This “I don’t care because it doesn’t directly affect me” attitude is exactly why we can’t have nice things. Caring about if someone is skeevy shouldn’t be limited to those running for high office.”

    So now you expect to hear about the contributions made by foreign governments to all 300 million or so citizens. And you wonder why I consider you naive?

  69. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    So now you expect to hear about the contributions made by foreign governments to all 300 million or so citizens. And you wonder why I consider you naive?

    If you think the IRS or DHS isn’t capable of tracking and publishing that, you’re the naive one, darling. You just don’t care and I suspect the majority of Americans don’t either. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done. You chose to be blind because you feel it doesn’t matter.

    It’s not that I am ignoring it — it’s that it is not a crime to exchange money for a service if you are not a public official or candidate. It shouldn’t fail to be considered bribery just because the transaction occurred prior to announcing one’s candidacy.

    This right here is doublethink. It’s not a crime but it is! She’s a private citizen but she accepted a bribe for office! Again, you don’t like it. That doesn’t mean you can change the definition of a word to suit your needs. How far back does this “prior” cover anyways…

    For god’s sake, the charity is for AIDS and women’s education! Maybe they’re actually interested in helping, has this ever occurred to anyone?

  70. mannning says:

    I don’t see what could possibly be wrong with foreign donations to the Clinton charitable foundation. It isn’t as if the foreigners will camp out at her doorstep if she wins, nor will they hold a bunch of money aside for her after her time in office. Nor will they set aside a portfolio of hot stocks to sell her later on at a bargain, nor hold a hot property, say in Dubai, for her at a bargain price. She won’t favor any loans or grants towards those nations, nor will she support favored nation treatment for them in trade negotiations. They won’t shower her with high priced fees for speaking to their assembled leaders, either, to regale them with her experiences in the WH. I am very confident that if these foreign nation matters come up during her presidency, she will recuse herself if warranted.

    Nah, nothing to see here.

  71. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “If you think the IRS or DHS isn’t capable of tracking and publishing that, you’re the naive one, darling.”

    Capable of tracking, sure. Willing to withstand the outcry when they publish that information on 300 million people, no way, sweetums.

    ” It’s not a crime but it is! She’s a private citizen but she accepted a bribe for office!”

    I’ll tell you what — offer a person who is taking office next week $1 million to get you some waiver which is not generally available, and claim at your bribery trial “But s/he was a private citizen when I paid him/her.” See if you can convince a judge, if you can be heard over the laughter.

    “For god’s sake, the charity is for AIDS and women’s education! Maybe they’re actually interested in helping, has this ever occurred to anyone?”

    Because, of course, the Clinton Foundation is the only charity which works on those issues.

  72. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I also know that the people who are offering the bribes contributions

    You really don’t understand bribes, do you?

    For it to be a bribe, the recipient has to get something out of it. The expectation of quid pro quo is proportional to how much the recipient benefits.

    In this case, Hillary gets… what? A warm fuzzy that her family foundation is able to do a little more good work than it was already doing? Just how much leverage do you think that exerts? Is it more or less than the goodwill debt incurred when somebody gives her book a positive review on Amazon.com?

  73. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Since the comment you were quoting from was in response to a question about “the entire Senate” (and not Hillary), I am giving it all the respect it deserves. Zilch.

  74. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Since the comment you were quoting from was in response to a question about “the entire Senate” (and not Hillary), I am giving it all the respect it deserves. Zilch.

    Oh, please. Really?

    I could have gone to the trouble of quoting the other silly replies you’ve made in this thread, such as

    I care about the background of everyone who runs for office, which includes who has been bribing them contributing to their foundations.

    You gonna claim now that you meant Senators’ foundations? Right. Whatever.

    Come on, man. If you’re gonna do teh stupid, at least own it.

  75. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Talking about stupid is not a good idea for you — it fits you too well.

    For example, the words “everyone who runs for office” are rather plain English. If you cannot parse them, then asking for help might be useful. Insulting people who you ask for help, less so.

  76. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I’ll tell you what — offer a person who is taking office next week $1 million to get you some waiver which is not generally available, and claim at your bribery trial “But s/he was a private citizen when I paid him/her.” See if you can convince a judge, if you can be heard over the laughter.

    And what have these donors requested Hillary do? Your poor example doesn’t compare: She hasn’t won yet in an election that hasn’t taken place – you cite an elected person taking office shortly, not a potential runner in an election years away. Timing actually matters as does whether or not they have the freaking job if you’re going to accuse someone of being on the take. Tell you what – since you’re so damned convinced she did wrong, YOU go to a judge with what you have right now and tell them you want Hillary indicted for bribery as the future President based off something that happened a few years ago. After they’re done laughing at you, come back here and try to explain why you think Nulla poena sine lege is a crock and that the Pre-Crimes unit should totally be looked into. You are making a pretty big assumption and it’s certainly making an ass out of you at present.

    Bribery is two part legal action: the receiving of recompense for the grant of a favor or action. You are asserting part one on some rather spurious logic. If part two ever actually happens, please feel free to file charges as a crime has been committed – I’d be happy to file an amicus for you. Until then, it’s money you don’t like given to someone you disapprove of by people you hate – welcome to Washington. If being “influenced ” like you claim is a major problem for you, you’d have to nuke it to the bedrock to clean house.

    FYI – this is a major reason why she has such an advantage at this point. If your big argument is she’s dirty by way of maybe doing some nebulous evil something in the future based off money given to a charity (not even to her!), people are going to think you’re nuts. Voters who don’t like her are going to rally to her simply because they see the non-nonsensical ravings and poor logic being used against her and want no part of it. It worked for Obama – you guys might want to learn your lesson before trying this crap again.

  77. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    “And what have these donors requested Hillary do? ”

    I don’t know. And funny thing, neither do you, unless you were present at all of the donors’ meetings. Somehow, I doubt you were invited.

    Moreover, aside from claiming certainty on a matter which none of us actually has knowledge, (and aside from having me totally mispegged on my political beliefs, which is neither here nor there) you are fighting a construct in your own mind. My original comment was:

    “As always where campaign finance is concerned, the horrible stuff is not what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal. This is the sort of thing that should be illegal, with the spouse of a candidate accepting monies from foreign governments.”

    So while I believe this conduct should be illegal, it acknowledged from the beginning that it is not. I further acknowledged it by crossing out the word “bribe” in each case, and substituting “contribution” each time.

  78. al-Ameda says:

    @mannning:

    I don’t see what could possibly be wrong with foreign donations to the Clinton charitable foundation.

    It is certainly no more egregious than our current Citizens United campaign financing world, right?

  79. KM says:

    @Moosebreath:

    having me totally mispegged on my political beliefs,

    Perhaps – if so, apologies. But to be fair, based on your arguments so far it’s a very easy mistake to make. You’ve also been mistaking mine and frankly started with the Ad Hominem first (“naive”) so this is not just on me.

    So while I believe this conduct should be illegal, it acknowledged from the beginning that it is not. I further acknowledged it by crossing out the word “bribe” in each case, and substituting “contribution” each time.

    Then what is your ultimate point? Even knows legal =/= moral. If this fails to pass your personal moral test, then whatever. But for at least 10 posts now you been very heavily insinuating (typing and then crossing out is a big ole internet “I’m just sayin'”) that Hillary is doing something wrong on the verge of criminality and calling me naive for not “seeing it”. You stop just short of crossing the line of outright accusation with lines like “It shouldn’t fail to be considered bribery” . You are playing word games even if it’s intentionally- you went out of your way to type then cross-out in a way that comes across as a passive-aggressive “oops did i say that?”. You were the first to use the word “Bribe”. The rest of us were talking how this would be seen as poor PR – you moved it to a whole different realm by invoking that and all the connotations involved. You keep saying it’s not illegal, private citizens can do whatever, but keep circling back to the idea she’s in the wrong by doing this. There’s a term of this in fencing – “Searching for the blade”. Doing so tends to lead to a quick touch against – trying for a complicated motion and setup leaves you open for a quick takedown.

    If you believe this should be illegal, take it up with Congress and/or the Supreme Court (for the record, I agree with you on this point – damn Citizens United). Otherwise, I’d advise on letting this one go. Hillary’s got worse things that are causing that “smell” that need to be publicly addressed – this one’s a nothingburger.

  80. KM says:

    @KM:
    Damn – don’t type on moving trains.

    Correction: meant to say unintentionally. I don’t think you’re being malicious; I’m not sure you see the weight and implications your word choice is having on your readers because bribery is a legal term as well as a common one. I would have gone with “suspicious contributions” personally and just leave out the whole b-word all together.

  81. Moosebreath says:

    @KM:

    While I appreciate your comment, I think that the personal attacks started even earlier, with DrDaveT’s response to my initial comment, which did not mention the “b-word”: “Are you familiar with the concept of a ‘foundation’? If not, you could (gasp) look it up.”. To me, calling someone “naive” is less of an insult than that was.

    As for this being a nothingburger, I disagree. This is a perfect example of how Hillary is likely to be outflanked on the populism issue. She is unconscious of how this looks to everyone who is not an elite.