Scandal follows the Clintons

Posted: Jun 01, 2007 12:00 AM
Scandal follows the Clintons

You may have read about the $146,886 jet trip a prominent CEO bankrolled for the Clintons to vacation in Acapulco, but this trip is just one of the favors the Clintons received from a company that makes millions selling the kind of personal data that's coveted by political campaigns.

When asked by the Associated Press about her trips sponsored by InfoUSA, a data mining corporation her husband is paid to advise, Hillary said “Whatever I’ve done, I complied with the Senate rules at the time. That’s the way every senator operates.”

But one question, seemingly obvious to a conservative journalist like me, why is Hillary, who is running for the Democrat nomination for President, so cozy with a CEO who sells personal data so valued by political campaigns?

The Associated Press didn’t ask this. The Associated Press also didn’t ask Hillary about the personal information InfoUSA sells about Clinton donors.

What has been covered in the mainstream media is the financial support Vinod Gupta, CEO of InfoUSA, has lavished on the Clinton through his personal checkbook and company coffers.

Gupta has secured $3 million in consulting contracts for the former President. Gupta has also donated at least $1 million to Bill Clinton’s presidential library, $2 million to Hillary’s 1999 New Year’s Eve Millennium party and “bundled” $200,000 for her Senate campaign.

The Clintons were also given use of InfoUSA’s corporate jet to take trips to Switzerland, Hawaii, Mexico and Jamaica at an estimated cost of $900,000. When Hillary used the jet for campaign purposes she only reimbursed the company at the cost of a first class flight. Her reimbursements, for seven of these trips, totaled $450,000—a significant discount from private jet fare costs.

According to Hillary’s Senate financial disclosure forms, InfoUSA also paid Mr. Clinton $200,000 to deliver a speech in Omaha, Nebraska, where the company is headquartered, on July 27, 2001. Hillary’s disclosure forms also report that Mr. Clinton is paid an undisclosed fee of “more than $1,000” annually in “non-employee compensation.”

Recently, Cardinal Value Equity Partners, InfoUSA’s largest shareholder filed a lawsuit against Gupta’s for recklessly spending company money. Among other things, the shareholders were outraged about the company money had been spent on the Clintons.

Now, here’s what you haven’t been told about the Clinton’s relationship with InfoUSA.

Gupta’s company is a database marketing service that, according to its website, sells personal contact information like emails, phone numbers and home addresses for 210 million US customers and 14 million US businesses.

This information is used by political campaigns to target voters.

In the last election, InfoUSA sold personal information like this to the Democratic National Committee. A November 15, 2006 article by InformationWeek reported that the DNC spent $8 million through the 2006 election cycle building a database called Netezza and that “somewhere between 60 percent and 70 percent was filled with data purchased through InfoUSA.”

And, it looks like the Clintons have sold some donor information through InfoUSA sponsored lists. An April 30, 2006 article by the New York Daily News reported that Hillary had collected at least $340,000 in cash for mailing donation solicitations on their behalf to Clinton donors.

Walter Karl Inc. is InfoUSA’s List Management and List Brokerage Division and manages such lists. Among its offerings, it sells “data cards” that contain email, phone numbers and/or home addresses for those who contributed to Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund and Hillary Clintons’ presidential campaign.

Data cards currently sold by Walter Karl contain contact information for persons who gave money to: the Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton Legal Defense Fund, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign called Friends of Hillary and Hillary Clinton’s political action committee called HillPAC.

Walter Karl also sells lists of those who have donated to the: Democratic National Committee, Democratic National Committee Hispanic Donors, Democratic candidates, labor unions and liberal organizations.

Only two of the several hundred lists available on the Walter Karl website appear to be Republican leaning. They are for donors to Republican candidates and conservative organization contributors.

Again, why is Hillary Clinton so closely aligned with the CEO of a data mining corporation?

Since 1994 Hillary has shown interest in creating a voter database to further her political ambitions. As First Lady, she sought to construct a $1.7 million voter database called the White House Data Base, at taxpayer expense, even though doing so would violate the law. The 1882 Hatch Act prohibits candidates from using government property, or workers on taxpayer time for campaign purposes.

White House aide Marsha Scott wrote a memo to Hillary on June 28, 1994 about the project titled “Recommendation for Design of New Database.” The memo told Hillary that Scott was working with the DNC on building a new database. It discussed “cloning and duplicating databases” and that “any information in Peoplebase [old database] could then be dumped into the new system and made available, when deemed necessary, to the DNC and other entities we choose to work with for political purposes.”

Hillary read the memo and wrote on it: “Sounds promising. Please advise. HRC.” This memo was later distributed to the media by Congressman David McIntosh, former chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee.

At the time, McIntosh said, “It’s clear that Mrs. Clinton not only signed off on using taxpayer funds to create the White House Data Base but that she also raised no objection when Marsha Scott suggested illegally transferring database information to the DNC. It troubles me deeply that Mrs. Clinton, who is a very bright lawyer, saw no problem using taxpayer funds to aid the political operations of the DNC.”

Since leaving the White House Bill Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, Harold Ickes, has since created his own voter database called Catalist that is used by several Democrat special interest groups. Some of Catalist’s clients include: ACORN, MoveOn.Org., Emily’s List, the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. Hillary Clinton works closely with each of these liberal groups.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, InfoUSA has sought to distance itself from a scandal that preyed on the elderly and poor in Iowa by destroying online links between InfoUSA and Walter Karl.

At the time of publication, the links from Walter Karl that advertise the Clinton donor lists are still active.