Will bagman Bill’s ethically dubious ways enhance Hillary’s installation at Foggy Bottom?
Media reports Monday evening suggested that pending a vetting of her husband’s business affairs, Hillary Clinton has been offered America’s top diplomatic post by President-elect Barack Obama and that she is poised to accept.
If the reports are true, Obama must not be worried that former President Bill Clinton’s freewheeling fundraising practices will come back to haunt the incoming administration.
The ethical concern is not that the former commander-in-chief is raising oodles of money to fight poverty, global warming, HIV/AIDS, and sugary soft drinks in elementary schools. More power to him.
The problem is that with Secretary of State Hillary off in the tension-filled Levant conjuring loaves, donors may give money to the William J. Clinton Foundation wanting something more than a discount at the Clinton Library gift shop. They may expect favors from a Clinton State Department or from others in the Obama administration.
Even if everything happening at the foundation is completely above board, there is the potential for the perception of corruption, as Deborah Corey and I noted in the February 2008 Foundation Watch.
This is because federal law does not require nonprofit charities — including presidential foundations — to disclose the identities of their contributors. Bill Clinton fiercely defended his legal right to keep donor names secret earlier this year and will probably do so again.
Typically presidential foundations support the unusual entity known as the presidential library. Presidential libraries have two parts: The library’s document collections are maintained by the National Archives and are open to all researchers. But most tourists visit the library’s exhibition halls, conference center and museum store, which are administered by the foundation. The National Archives pays to maintain the collection of documents and library salaries, while donors, including corporations and foreign governments, may give unlimited amounts of money — even while a president is in office — to the presidential library foundation.
Clinton’s foundation runs the “Clinton Presidential Center” in Little Rock, Arkansas, which includes the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the Clinton School of Public Service.
In the spring, Bill Clinton promised that if his wife became president he would, with the beginning of her presidency, disclose the names of future donors to his foundation. The issue receded to the background after it became clear that Hillary was going to lose the race for her party’s presidential nomination.
With the possibility of her taking over from Condoleezza Rice,
it’s worth revisiting.
IT WOULD BE a gross understatement to say that Bill Clinton’s handling of the issue of donor confidentiality at his foundation has been inconsistent.
At one time, plans called for the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, to feature a wall naming its major donors. The move was applauded as an effort to bring greater transparency to the $165 million project.
However, the wall was never built. President Clinton said his foundation didn’t need to disclose its current and past donor identities because “A lot of people gave me money with the understanding that they could give anonymously.” President Bush’s father didn’t see it that way. When it opened in 1997, the George (H.W.) Bush Presidential Library voluntarily disclosed the names of donors who gave amounts over $10,000. Only a few names were withheld at the request of individual donors.
Meanwhile, ABC News reported a year ago that infoUSA, a direct marketing data company founded by Vin Gupta, a friend and major donor to Bill Clinton, patron saint of donor privacy, was sold a partial list of donors to the Clinton Foundation.
Good government advocates and liberals alike were not amused.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?