For weeks now, we've been reading headline after headline about questionable practices at the Clinton Foundation. By now, you’ve likely heard troubling accounts about the Clintons’ secret foreign donors, their relentless profiteering, and support for troubling business deals that affect our national security.
There’s a lot to digest, but why should Americans care about the Clintons’ finances and their foundation’s donor? The answer: it’s a matter of trust. Can Americans really trust Hillary Clinton?
It’s a question all Americans will have to answer for themselves. (We already know from recent polls that a majority of Americans do not believe she is honest or trustworthy.) So it’s important to look at the facts. Just the facts.
One of the most recent—and troubling—revelations involves the Clintons’ role in transferring control of American uranium resources to the Russian government.
During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom took over a Canadian uranium mining company that became known as Uranium One. According to the New York Times, it controlled mines “from Central Asia to the American West.”
When the Russians moved to take over a majority of the company, the deal had to get approval from Clinton’s State Department because of the strategic importance of Uranium. Her department approved the deal.
Now consider this: (1) Bill Clinton traveled abroad with Canadian mining investors as they built the company, and they donated to the Clinton Foundation. (2) The family foundation of a Uranium One official donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. (3) That donation, in addition to millions of dollars more from Uranium One-linked people, were not disclosed by the Clinton Foundation, despite their disclosure agreements. (4) According to the Times, “after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, [Bill Clinton] received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”
It sure looks like the Clinton are profiting from their positions of power. Is it just a coincidence? If nothing is amiss, why were these donations not disclosed?
The Uranium One incident is not an aberration. Even though the Clinton Foundation has repeatedly promised over the years to disclose its donors, it has been caught keeping hundreds of donors—and millions in donations—secret.
For example, in 2010, 2011, and 2012, the foundation reported “zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments” to the IRS, according to Reuters. In reality, they had received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments. It was also discovered that the Foundation did not disclose 1,100 donors associated with a Canadian charity, in violation of an agreement signed with the Obama administration.
Why? Did they not want to reveal who was donating to them? Or were they just so incompetent that they completely forgot to report foreign donations for three years in a row?
Hillary Clinton promised President Obama, and by extension the country, that the Clinton Foundation would not create a conflict of interest for her while she was Secretary of State. She promised that foreign donations would be reviewed by the State Department and would be publicly disclosed. This was supposed to ensure that Clinton didn’t use her position to do favors for donors.
Nevertheless, the Foundation accepted foreign donations without seeking approval, including half a million dollars from Algeria, while she was Secretary. They also accepted donations from companies that had business before the State Department.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has responded to these reports by saying that no one has found a “smoking gun.” That’s not exactly a denial of guilt. Perhaps Hillary Clinton’s email records could shed light on the subject. Unfortunately, she deleted them off of her private server. It’s the equivalent of pouring bleach on a crime scene: it doesn’t mean you’re guilty; it just means you’ve made it difficult to get to the truth.
At best, Clinton’s disclosures and documentation are sloppy and suspect. So the only appropriate thing for the Foundation to do is undergo a complete and thorough review to ensure every donation has been properly documented and disclosed and that every potential conflict of interest has been investigated.
Hillary Clinton once called herself the “most transparent person in public life.” A “transparent person” would call for and welcome a thorough and public accounting of the foundation’s activities. It’s a matter of accountability, and it’s a matter of trust.