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OPINION

The Clintons Run A Fashionable Racket

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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It would be nice to be cursed with so much money you don’t know what to do with it. But far too many Americans face too many bills and not enough income to handle it.

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That’s not a problem for Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton; their chalice definitely runneth over.

So what do you do when you have more money than you could possibly spend without rolling with an MC Hammer-level entourage or Olympic-sized coke habit? For the Clinton family, the problem is compounded by the fact Hillary, as secretary of state, has something the world’s richest wanted: influence.

The money was simply astronomical. But what to do with it? How do you keep as much of it as possible? More importantly, how do you get it all without it being seen as the fruits of influence peddling when that’s exactly what it is?

The answer is simple: Call it charity.

As everyone knows, the Clintons set up charities to house their booty. If only the mob was so savvy with the tax code.

Billions of dollars later, the Clintons have gone from “dead broke” to one of the world’s wealthiest couples. But they don’t possess the money; it’s for “charity.”

How they got the money is well documented in the book “Clinton Cash,” as is what the “donors” got for their money. What they do with the money remains largely unknown.

Last year, the watchdog group Charity Navigators, known for its unbiased assessment of charities to protect donors from scams, put the Clinton Foundation on its “watch list.” As the New York Post put it, after taking in $140 million, the Clinton charities spent only “$9 million on direct aid.”

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According to the Post, “The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.”

The Clintons themselves, naturally, took no salary. That sounds magnanimous, as does the concept of a charity. But with the Clintons there’s always a catch.

While Bill, Hillary and Chelsea weren’t hoovering checks from their charity, they were living large off it.

The Foundation listed $8.5 million in travel expenses. Most people couldn’t imagine what $100,000 in travel looked like, let alone $8.5 million. But that’s how the Clinton’s roll.

Here’s how these things work:

Say you want to go to Paris or Los Angeles. You could buy a ticket and pay for your own hotels, food, etc.

But if you’re a Clinton, and you have a charity with tons of money, all you have to do is set up a few charity-related meetings where you want to go. With the Clintons having patrons all around the world, and it being known Hillary stands a good chance of being the next president of the United States, there aren’t too many people who would turn down a meeting with any of them.

So the charity pays for the first-class ticket or charter flight. It picks up the hotel and the meals because you’re there for charity business. Meetings last an hour or two; the rest of the day is yours. And it’s all nice and legal.

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The same goes for in-town expenses. Employing family and friends means any meal or nearly any event attended with people you would’ve been with anyway becomes work-related.

Guess where the bill goes. In 2013, the Clinton Foundation spent $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings.” It’s conceivable the Clintons didn’t have to personally pick up a check or pay for a plane ticket that entire year.

That’s not the extent of how this racket works. With the release of Bill and Hillary’s taxes, the Washington Free Beacon showed the vast majority of their “charitable donations,” millions of dollars, went to their own charities. So they earn money through their connections and speeches, donate chunks of it to their own organizations, get to write those donations off their tax debt, then get to benefit from that money. Pretty sweet deal.

And it’s all legal.

The Clintons are hardly the only rich people to avail themselves of the complexity of the tax code, though they might be one of the largest beneficiaries of it and are certainly the ones who’ve spent the most time demanding the rich “pay their fair share” when it comes to taxes.

Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a prominent pro athlete or actor without some kind of foundation bearing their names. Like the others, if the Clintons really wanted to do charitable work to help others, having one’s own foundation is not necessary.

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There isn’t a single charity on the planet that would not love to have a former president as its spokesman. He could have raised millions for any and every cause that mattered to him and avoided all the conflicts of interest. But that wouldn’t directly benefit the Clintons or leave them with generational wealth for their family.

Charity is a noble word, but its meaning is being diluted. The Clintons are the most egregious example of how the super-rich cheat the rest of us in charity’s name, but they are not the only ones. If only we all had the problem of being in a position to “help” others by so helping ourselves.

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