There’s a grain of truth to Bill Clinton’s outburst this morning about the Clinton Foundation’s shady dealings: as with most Clinton malfeasance, it’s either well hidden or well constructed, with plenty of plausible deniability built into the system, so while it’s very clear that something fishy is going on, it’s never truly clear that something fishy is going on.
Today, Bill gave an interview to Bloomberg, in which he responded to allegations that the Clinton Foundation was nothing more than a slush fund, useful for padding the pockets of State Department bigwigs, employing friends, and giving Chelsea Clinton employees to berate and harass (allegedly) so that she had something to do to pass the time. Instead of giving the outright denial, Bill Clinton did what Clintons usually do in these situations: ask if there’s any concrete evidence.
To be fair, he didn’t even manage to fool the Washington Post, who immediately pointed out that you don’t need concrete proof of shady dealings to know that they happened. The Foundation took money from anyone with business before the State Department. The Clinton Foundation is continuing to operate as Hillary Clinton runs for President (though she still, strangely, says she hasn’t made a formal announcement), without much concern for how donations could affect post-election placements. The Clintons have used their names to raise money for the foundation for years, even though the foundation doesn’t seem to have a track record as having done anything. And lastly, both Bill and Hillary maintained lucrative speaking careers while still employed with the foundation, often taking – no, demanding – six figure donations in return for the mere threat of their presence.
Obviously, the answer is designed to goad people like me into exactly what I’m doing: rant somewhat incoherently without producing much in the way of actual proof – though as the Post points out, actual proof in these types of pay-to-play situations is often rare, which is why statutes like RICO, which look at the overall criminal machinations of an organization rather than just a single element, exist.
Questions about the Clintons’ use of money, and how it influenced other areas of their political life, were bound to come up. The Clintons will try to slough off the concerns by noting that the foundation does “good work” – even if that “good work” is just keeping Chelsea out of the hair of service industry professionals – and he can’t possibly keep track of every entry in its ledger sheet, which should be enough to insulate him and his wife from allegations of fraud or undue influence. Unfortunately, the Clintons also formed that strategy in the years before the Internet.