The campaign manager for Sen. Barack Obama has a point. David Plouffe wants Hillary Clinton to release her income tax returns for the last several years and couple that with a speedier process for releasing papers from the Clinton White House years. That's so voters will be able to judge whether Mrs. Clinton's claims of experience are justified by what she says she did as a virtual "co-president."
Plouffe told reporters last week that Mrs. Clinton is "one of the most secretive politicians in America today." Who would disagree, other than Mrs. Clinton? There does seem to be some inconsistency, if not outright duplicity. On one hand, we are supposed to accept at face value that she is, as former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski is said to have once called her, "the smartest woman in the world." On the other hand, we are to think nothing of her inability to find records, or produce records in a timely fashion, or get records released from the Clinton Presidential Library.
One would think that if the records validated her claim of experience in being part of so many international and domestic policy decisions, she would rush to produce documents that back up those claims. And if her income tax returns contain nothing that could cause embarrassment, those, too, should be coming off the copying machine at Kinko's to be handed out to reporters.
The Clintons have always had a fascination with money and how to make more of it. According to Forbes.com, on his 1986 return, "Bill Clinton deducted $6 for three pairs of underwear and $75 for a suit with ripped pants given to the Salvation Army." Neither Clinton has to worry about money now, but the country ought to know where the millions they have vacuumed up in recent years came from, and if that money has strings attached.
Last week, The Washington Times reported that in May 2006 (the spring before his wife began her campaign for the White House) Bill Clinton made "$700,000 for his foundation by selling stock he had been given from an Internet search company that was co-founded by a convicted felon and backed by the Chinese government." Mr. Clinton had received the non-publicly traded stock from Accoona Corporation in 2004 as a gift for giving a speech at a company event. His windfall came when he sold the 200,000 shares to an undisclosed (naturally) buyer. Clinton got $3.50 a share at a time when the company was reporting millions of dollars in losses.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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