Will bagman Bill’s ethically dubious ways enhance Hillary’s installation at Foggy Bottom?
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“The fact that they’ve sold the list and then turned around and said that these names must be kept anonymous completely undercuts their argument,” said Sheila Krumholz of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the influence of money in politics.
Liberal pundit Matthew Yglesias of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress believed the Clintons should have made public the names of foundation donors to avoid any appearance of impropriety. “The voters ought to have this information before the election, when it could still make a difference…We really ought to find out who his donors are before the nomination is settled,” Yglesias wrote in an October 4, 2007, Los Angeles Times op-ed. “Because it’s presumed that big-dollar donors to the Clinton Foundation are gaining access to and some measure of influence with the foundation’s top dog, is it such a stretch to think that might extend to his White House-seeking wife as well?”
Asked to comment on the foundation’s policy at a presidential
debate in September of last year, Senator Clinton punted. “Well,
you’ll have to ask them,” she said, referring to Bill Clinton and
his staff. In fact, the New York Times reported last
December 20 that the foundation’s first chief of staff, Karen
Tramontano, has said Mrs. Clinton was deeply involved in deciding
the foundation’s organization and scope of work: “She had a lot
of ideas. All the papers that went to him went to her.”
WHO’S ON THE donor list? Billionaires, Saudi royalty, Arab businessmen, the king of Morocco, the governments of Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, and Taiwan, and lots of Hollywood celebrities have donated to the Clinton Foundation. In 2004, the New York Sun reported on 57 donors who appear to have each given $1 million or more. The big donors included Gupta, former Mattel Inc. chairman Bill Rollnick, Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Robert L. Johnson, and George Soros’s friends insurance magnate Peter B. Lewis and shopping center developers Bren and Melvin Simon. The Soros Foundation, which is the European arm of Soros’s Open Society Institute, also gave money, along with Denise Rich, ex-wife of Marc Rich, the fugitive whom Clinton granted a pardon hours before leaving office.
The New York Times revealed last year that in the closing years of the Clinton administration at least 97 donors donated or pledged a total of $69 million for the library. Although some of the $1 million donors were longstanding friends of the Clintons, others were pushing the Clinton administration for policy changes. Two donors pledged $1 million each while they or their companies were undergoing Justice Department probes.
Then there’s also the case of Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, a partner-in-philanthropy with Bill Clinton, who gave $31.3 million to Clinton’s charity following a visit the two made to Kazakhstan, which apparently helped Giustra seal a lucrative deal with that country’s uranium monopoly, Kazatomprom. The suspect donation was made through Giustra’s Radcliffe Foundation. Giustra also promised to give an additional $100 million to the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, which is a project of the Clinton Foundation. Giustra and Clinton deny any wrongdoing.
Predictably, as Hillary’s potential nomination by Obama recently gained steam, the New York Observer’s resident Clinton apologist Joe Conason wrote that concerns about Bill Clinton’s philanthropic activities “seem slightly overblown.” Conason notes correctly that Bill’s financial data is provided on Hillary’s publicly available Senate disclosure forms, but gets his facts wrong when he writes that the names of donors to the foundation haven’t been concealed.
Will the mainstream media lazily follow Conason’s lead and give Obama and the Clintons a pass on this issue too?
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