Questions On Clinton Foundation Contributions And Speaking Fees May Bring About Further Fall In Polls For Clinton

Recent coverage of the Clinton scandals will hopefully put an end to the conservative myth of a liberal media which will lie and twist the news to promote Democratic candidates at the expense of Republicans. Much of the “liberal” media is demonstrating that they are just as likely to cover evidence of unethical behavior among political leaders regardless of party. Today The New York Times looks at how Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.

Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

There is certainly no smoking gun to absolutely prove that actions by the Clintons were in response to the money they received, but as just one part of a pattern is is unlikely that few beyond Clinton partisans will believe they were innocent of unethical behavior. This, and other similar stories, look far worse for the Clintons by the manner in which Hillary Clinton failed to abide by two Obama policies designed to reduce the risk of such corruption in his administration–increased transparency, including the use of government email, and an agreement, which Clinton violated, to disclose all contributions to the Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State. While discussing The Disastrous Clinton Post-Presidency, Jonathan Chait wrote:

The Obama administration wanted Hillary Clinton to use official government email. She didn’t. The Obama administration also demanded that the Clinton Foundation disclose all its donors while she served as Secretary of State. It didn’t comply with that request, either.

The Clintons’ charitable initiatives were a kind of quasi-government run by themselves, which was staffed by their own loyalists and made up the rules as it went along. Their experience running the actual government, with its formal accountability and disclosure, went reasonably well. Their experience running their own privatized mini-state has been a fiasco.

It has been an unusual experience, limited to the Clinton and Bush families, for an ex-president to have the opportunity to continue to exert influence due to having other family members in major positions of power. ABC News looked at how Bill Clinton Cashed In When Hillary Became Secretary of State.

After his wife became Secretary of State, former President Bill Clinton began to collect speaking fees that often doubled or tripled what he had been charging earlier in his post White House years, bringing in millions of dollars from groups that included several with interests pending before the State Department, an ABC News review of financial disclosure records shows.

Where he once had drawn $150,000 for a typical address in the years following his presidency, Clinton saw a succession of staggering paydays for speeches in 2010 and 2011, including $500,000 paid by a Russian investment bank and $750,000 to address a telecom conference in China.

“It’s unusual to see a former president’s speaking fee go up over time,” said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office under President George W. Bush. “I must say I’m surprised that he raised his fees. There’s no prohibition on his raising it. But it does create some appearance problems if he raises his fee after she becomes Secretary of State.”

Public speaking became a natural and lucrative source of income for Clinton when he returned to private life in 2001. Records from disclosure forms filed by Hillary Clinton during her tenures in the U.S. Senate and then in the Obama Administration indicate he took in more than $105 million in speech fees during that 14 year period.

The article also noted that ABC News found some errors in an advanced copy of Peter Schweizer upcoming book Clinton Cash. This is why it is so important that reliable journalistic outlets such as The New York Times are evaluating his data, and that others, including liberal investigative journalists such as David Sirota, are uncovering the same issues while working independently.

While Schweizer has previously written conservative books, he is branching out to a Republican family which has the same ethics issues as the Clinton family. Bloomberg Business reports that Schweizer is targeting Jeb Bush next.

In related news, Reuters reports “Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.” One question here is whether these were innocent errors or yet another attempt to prevent disclosure of foreign contributions.

Hilary Clinton continues to have a huge lead for the Democratic nomination but there was one development of interest earlier this week when one ex-Clinton backer has switched his support to Martin O’Malley.

Clinton’s lead in the national polls has grown increasingly narrow in recent weeks with the most recent Quinnipiac poll showing Clinton leading her closest Republican opponent, Marco Rubio, by only two points. Of particular concern, the poll found that “American voters say 54 – 38 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, a lower score than top Republicans.” These polling numbers, which have worsened since the start of the email scandal, very well might get even worse for Clinton as further information comes out over the course of the campaign. At some point those Democrats who are in denial of the seriousness of the accusations against Hillary Clinton may have to consider how their defense of Clinton may be serving to bring about the election of Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, or some other Republican as the next president.

Update: The New York Times noted this report from Reuters, along with Clinton’s failure to disclose relevant contributions per her agreement with Obama, in their editorial on this matter the following day:

The messiness of her connection with the foundation has been shown in a report by The Times on a complex business deal involving Canadian mining entrepreneurs who made donations to the foundation and were at the time selling their uranium company to the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company. That deal, which included uranium mining stakes in the United States, required approval by the federal government, including the State Department.

The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    Well done, Ron.  You are one of the few Lefties to treat the Clinton stories seriously.  Of course, it is only first of many more to come.

  2. 2
    Philo Vaihinger says:

    OK, that’s a long string of Hillary-bashing. Everybody has noticed. So what’s up with that?

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    David,

    There are several other liberal blogs who are taking this seriously, while there are also many which take one of two attitudes–either total denial (which means ignoring any facts they don’t like) or arguing that since she is “our” candidate it is all ok as she would be better than the Republicans. (See the quote I plan to use when I respond to the comment after yours).

    Unfortunately many liberal blogs see themselves as overly connected to the Democratic Party, while I got into blogging because of principles–and I’m not going to overlook violations of my principles based upon party affiliation.  Plus many of the pro bloggers (such as those working for liberal magazines) are in an uncomfortable situation of having to be concerned about their readership being overwhelmingly attached to the Democratic Party. Some of them are cautiously saying this is all of concern, but are avoiding saying too much which would alienate readers.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Phillip,

    This particular post, and several others, is about opposing corruption in government–which should be done regardless of party affiliation. Other posts are related to promoting liberal principles and opposing a politician who has opposed these principles throughout her political career.

    As Lawyers, Guns, and Money put it in their response to the same report from the New York Times:

    Over the years, Bill and Hillary Clinton have been subjected to accusations regarding so many fake “scandals” that it’s easy to dismiss further claims of impropriety and corruption as just more of the same. But as Jon Chait points out, it’s becoming evident that some of the things the Clintons have been doing over the past few years actually smell pretty bad:

    (quote from the article I also referred to in my post)

    Chait notes the most positive interpretation is that, in the post-Clinton presidency years, and especially in the years when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the Clintons were sloppy about details, greedy about money, and remarkably cavalier about potential conflicts of interest. And you don’t have to be the RNC’s media apparatus, i.e., FOX News et. al., to find more dire interpretations plausible.

    For progressives, all this is, to put it mildly, depressing. Working to get someone with Hillary Clinton’s political views elected would require a certain amount of nose-holding even if she and her husband were above reproach, ethically speaking.

    Under the circumstances, a race between Clinton and, say, Scott Walker is going to be akin to trying to acquire a sprained ankle instead of a major heart attack.

    On the other hand, there is less point in covering the Republican primary. With the possible exception of Rand Paul on those issues he hasn’t flip-flopped on yet, it hardly matters which Republican is the nominee. They are pretty much equally bad. With the Democratic Party there is still an outside chance of an honest liberal winning the nomination as opposed someone as dishonest and conservative as Hillary Clinton.

  5. 5
    DK says:

    Oh, yes, gotta love “principled” bloggers who selectively choose polls to illustrate their pre-chosen point. Let’s just ignore the CNN/ORC poll that showed Hillary riding to a double-digit lead over every Republican because that doesn’t fit the preferred narrative of “principled” liberal bloggers.
    No, “principled” liberal bloggers instead suggest progressives should throw the candidate best positioned to secure a progressive landslide under the bus based on rumors and innuendo, it unlike the “principled” liberals who gullibly fell for the false media narrative about Al Gore and got us eight years of George W. Bush. How principled!
    Pfft. The fact is that Hillsry remains electorally strong — the suggest otherwise is dishonest and not even close to principled. That’s what all the laughable concern trolling about Hillary’s chances is actually about. It’s clear that as voters rightly reject rumors, innuendo, and hypocritical selective outrage and scandalmongerung, Hillary’s rabid critics in the corporate media and on the political fringe left and right are getting embarrassingly desperate. She should continue to ignore them and speak to the actual policy issues that affect working Americans.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Only a Clinton supporter would confuse polling data and principles. These are two different topics.

    You are the one cherry picking the polling results. CNN is an outlier, showing Clinton with a much larger lead than the other polls. You are also ignoring that even the CNN poll shows that Clinton is hurt by questions about her honesty. Most of the polls show Clinton with only a narrow lead. Battle ground polls show Clinton to be in serious danger.

    Again, principles and polls are two different things. Even if Clinton did maintain a lead in the polls she would still be an unacceptable candidate due to both her ethical problems and her conservative positions on so many issues.

    Do you have any concept of the difference between a primary and a general election? Opposing a candidate for the nomination is not at all analogous to Gore V. Bush–a general election. However that should serve as a lesson. If Gore couldn’t motivate enough Democrats to turn out, a candidate far to the right of him might do even worse. Democrats had the same problem in 2014 when candidates ran as Clinton-type Republican-lite candidates.

    A better analogy than a general election campaign is the 2008 campaign where those of us who opposed Clinton were successful in getting a nominee who was both more liberal on the issues and far more honest. However it was many of the Clinton supporters who cried they would never vote for Obama.

    I agree with half of your last sentence. Clinton should speak to actual policy issues. So far she is giving only vague statements on the issues, and avoiding the press. It has been a disaster when she has had to face actual questioning, from her botched book tour to her press conference on the email scandal where many fact-checkers called out her multiple lies.

  7. 7
    Philo Vaihinger says:

    @ Ron,
    I voted for Obama in the PA primary in 2008.
    Before that I had supported Edwards over both O and Hillary.
    This time I don’t see a real horse race among the Democrats and since, though I despise much of her politics and dislike her personally (so far as I have any glimmer what the woman is like personally), I would much prefer her in net to any Republican, I sincerely hope progressives dwelling on her shortcomings don’t push her presidency to the right out of sheer spite for “the professional left” if she wins and don’t so wound her in the public’s esteem that she actually loses or has short and weak coat-tails.
    Personally, I would prefer somebody outright anti-interventionist, but that’s not in the cards.
    And I would prefer somebody more nationalist and less cosmopolitan, as well as a lot more pro-working class; but that’s not happening, either.
    Never in my life have I had the chance to vote for a person with whom I agreed on everything, or even very much, that mattered either to him or to me.
    Boo hoo, eh?
    One has to prioritize.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    There will never be a horse race if people act as if Clinton is entitled to the nomination and nobody speaks out against her. There is still a lot of time. Frontrunners have become derailed in the past.

    There is also a high risk that Clinton’s campaign will stop being viable in a national election. It would be far better that this happens before she clinches the nomination than after.

    With Clinton it is not a matter of not having a candidate I agree on everything on. With Clinton I disagree with her on pretty much every issue that matters to me. Even if the Republicans are worse, this does not mean ignoring principles. It very well might come down to holding our noses and voting for Clinton. This does not mean ceasing to criticize her for her corruption and for her many conservative views. I got into blogging to promote liberal principles–not to promote a political party.

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