Mother Teresa wants to build a charity. The first thing she does is call a meeting of influential people at a very expensive and exclusive French restaurant (La Grenouille in New York City). Most people would think that would set a tone for how the charity would be run. Of course, Mother Teresa would never do such a thing, but President Bill Clinton did in June 1999. Once you read this fact your intuition will tell you the rest of what followed from the Clinton Foundation as outlined by Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash will quite often be questionable, but will not shock you.
Schweizer’s highly publicized and controversial book has been hard to miss. Not only has he been out pimping it regularly, but the mainstream media (New York Times and Washington Post) were provided materials and did their own research validating his findings.
Schweizer starts the book by presenting his credentials as an equal-opportunity basher of elected officials. His 2011 book Throw Them All Out gained significant publicity for detailing Congress’s questionable stock trades from both sides of the aisle. His 2013 book Extortion, about which I wrote, detailed the bipartisan glad-handing for political contributions based on their committee assignments.
This book then goes into a delineation of various questionable actions relating the activities of Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state, former President Clinton racking up millions in speaking fees, and The Clinton Foundation bringing in millions of donations from questionable parties from which the Clintons personally profited, not to mention the governmental actions taken that benefitted Clinton friends.
The most well-known case delineated in the book is about how a Clinton buddy and funder, Frank Giustra, was able to wedge himself into a uranium deal that lined his pockets with millions of dollars while feeding the Clinton Foundation with millions and Bill Clinton with huge fees through Giustra’s own checkbook and that of his affiliated business contacts. Of course, none of this matters because on June 10, 2015, former President Clinton told Bloomberg News “Has anyone proved we have done anything objectionable? No.” The Washington Post headlined that statement, stating this proves Clinton does not get it regarding the problems with the Clinton Foundation.
My favorite Clinton escapade has to do with Haiti. The disastrous earthquake that left 230,000 dead and nearly leveled the entire country was ripe for Clinton mischief. The statement that most captured my attention was the quote of what The Economist said, which is “The strange multi-dimensional role that Mr. Clinton as co-chair of the IHRC (Interim Haiti Recovery Commission), special UN envoy, former US president, spouse of the US secretary of state, and head of his own foundation which supports projects in the country, will continue to lead to confusion about for who he advocates and to whom he ultimately answers.” What could possibly go wrong there?
Every account asserts that Haiti is still in a disastrous state. No one can purport that anything could possibly make Haiti a functional place. It started as a poorly-run country so why would anyone expect that it would be a pristine place even after the huge international humanitarian effort? Yet the details of Clinton cronyism and the disappointing results stagger even the most skeptical reader.
What really got me thinking the most was whether there was any graft in the various different donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign parties who wanted Clinton influence on public policy. The thought that came to mind is that I have rarely, if ever, encountered anyone who made charitable contributions without wanting to get full benefit of the tax deduction. Anyone who doubts the tax benefit is a major motivating factor should study the reaction of 501 (c) 3 charities any time the U.S. Congress even whispers about limiting the tax deductibility of their contributions.
Why then did all these foreign individuals and entities (not governments) make their contributions to an American charity? I do not know all the applicable tax laws from their nations so it is possible there were some local tax benefits. But that is highly unlikely. We are focusing on the many six- or seven- figure donations. A cynic would jump to conclusions that the quid pro quos outlined by Schweizer were the real motivation. You can draw your own conclusion.
As I wrote before, this entire matter is tawdry and it is certainly possible there are some illegalities. Whether the mainstream press will devote the resources to obtain a smoking gun and someone comes clean is still up for grabs. Schweizer has done a great service. Even if nothing goes further from his research, my question is why would Americans want four or possibly eight more years of this circus?