The Clintons have always behaved like the rules that governed everyone else didn't apply to them. And they've largely gotten away with it -- but perhaps Hillary Clinton's quest for the White House will finally bring this to an end. Two stories in recent days suggest the mainstream media are uncomfortable with ignoring the Clintons' hypocrisy, especially when it comes to money.
Until Bill and Hillary left the White House in January 2001, they were hardly what you'd call rich. They had never owned a home until they purchased one in late 1999 so that Hillary could have a permanent address in the state she hoped to represent in the U.S. Senate. Their friends' and political allies' efforts to enhance their financial status when the two occupied the Arkansas governor's mansion had ended badly in investigations into land deals and mysterious commodities windfalls.
These investigations, along with those into Bill's infamous peccadilloes and the Republicans' impeachment efforts, left the Clintons with huge legal bills. But they quickly made up for it by amassing a small fortune over the next six years. And that has provoked some concern among the media.
Over the last several days, The Washington Post has put two stories on its front page that reflect this uneasiness. The first focused on Bill Clinton's lucrative speaking engagements, which the Post noted in its headline garnered nearly $40 million since 2001. The second story revealed that, despite Senate ethics rules requiring her to do so, Hillary Clinton failed to disclose the amount of money she and Bill had sheltered from taxes through a family charity they set up when they left the White House (though she amended her disclosures after the story appeared).
The Post did important investigative reporting on both these stories, which should quell some conservatives' fears that the mainstream media is somehow in cahoots with the Clintons in their efforts to move back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The revelations about her failure to report the tax shelter caused Sen. Clinton some embarrassment at a time when her presidential campaign surely did not need that kind of attention. More importantly, the story about Bill's speaking engagements hinted at some unsavory links between the former president's hefty fees and his wife's own presidential aspirations.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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