Way To Not Keep That Pledge About Disclosing Your Donors, Hillary

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 20, 2015 9:30 AM
Way To Not Keep That Pledge About Disclosing Your Donors, Hillary

It seems the S.S. Clinton just keeps hitting icebergs in its long voyage to White House. We have lingering issues about Benghazi, the email fiasco, and now “the most transparent person in public life” has seemingly reneged on a pledge to disclose the donors of the Clinton Foundation; a process that stopped in 2010. Specifically, we’re talking about Clinton Health Access Initiative, which spends more than all the other programs in the Foundation combined  (via Reuters)[emphasis mine]:

In 2008, Hillary Clinton promised Barack Obama, the president-elect, there would be no mystery about who was giving money to her family's globe-circling charities. She made a pledge to publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence.

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons' charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.

The finding could renew scrutiny of Clinton's promises of transparency as she prepares to launch her widely expected bid for the White House in the coming weeks. Political opponents and transparency groups have criticized her in recent weeks for her decision first to use a private email address while she was secretary of state and then to delete thousands of emails she labeled private.

The article also delved into donations from foreign governments that were not given to the State Department to be reviewed; another factor that could undercut Clinton’s attempt at being transparent. Clinton also promised the Obama administration that State would be able to review any new, or increased, donations from foreign governments contributing to CHAI:

By the time Clinton left office in February 2013, the charity had received millions of dollars in new or increased payments from at least seven foreign governments. Five of the governments came on board during her tenure as secretary of state while two doubled or tripled their support in that time, according to data provided by CHAI spokeswoman [Maura] Daley.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, they reported on an agreement between President Clinton and the Obama administration where the Clinton Foundation would stop taking contributions from most foreign governments, but could still receive money from individuals, who in this case, had foreign government connections. And they gave generously as well:

The Clinton Foundation swore off donations from foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. That didn’t stop the foundation from raising millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments, a review of foundation disclosures shows.

Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments. One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.

All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.

After Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013, the foundation resumed accepting donations from foreign governments. Just after she stepped down as secretary of state, it received a large donation from a conglomerate run by a member of China’s National People’s Congress.

Yes, there’s a lot of ammunition to be used against Clinton once the 2016 season kicks into high gear. She’s eminently beatable–and how she’s handling this email controversy could make her more vulnerable. The issues regarding the email and transparency are starting to be heard beyond the DC Beltway. At the same time, Republicans could botch this if they channel Rep. Rick Lazio’s “in your face” methods of taking on Hillary.

Lazio was Hillary’s Republican opponent in the 2000 New York Senate race. He got trounced, but not after making an awkward maneuver in a debate where he left the podium and tried to force the former first lady into signing New York Freedom From Soft Money Pledge. Clinton didn’t, and Lazio was viewed as a bullying chauvinist. It’s actually really awkward to watch:

Nevertheless, the results will probably be the same if the 2016 Republican candidate gets a little too belligerent in rehashing all the problems Clinton has been having as of late, and in turn; consolidate every American woman to vote Democratic in the general. The left-leaning Mother Jones wrote a pretty good piece about how the charges of sexism are just easier to stick with Republicans given how Democrats and the media feels about them. They cited Scott Brown, where he referred to now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “professor;” it was seen as condescending–Richard Mourdock and Rep. Todd Akin as responsible for creating a narrative that showed an insensitivity to women. Yet, sometimes the Akin–Mourdock unforced rape gaffe isn’t what destroys a male candidate running against a female; it could be how “ungentlemanly ” one comes off, which was explicitly shown when the late Ann Richards ran for governor in Texas in 1990:

Mary Beth Rogers knows this well. In 1990, she ran Ann Richards' campaign for governor of Texas. Richards' opponent, a millionaire rancher named Clayton Williams, put his foot in his mouth early in the campaign by making a joke about how rape victims should just "relax and enjoy it." But it was a physical interaction, not the rape comment, that most damaged Williams, Rogers says. That summer, Richards and Williams appeared together before a meeting of the Texas Crime Commission. "And Ann came up there on the stage, and she stuck out her hand and said, 'Well hello, Claytie!'" Rogers remembers. Williams refused to shake Richards' hand. "Fortunately for us, because this was one of their first appearances together, it was on television and it was played every newscast in the state," Rogers says. "Twenty-five years ago in Texas that was a very ungentlemanly like thing to do. We felt that that was a key turning point in the campaign."

Four years later, Richards ran for reelection. Her opponent that year was George W. Bush, a failed congressional candidate then serving as the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. But Bush had learned from Williams' mistakes. "He was the perfect gentleman throughout the whole process," Rogers says. "A model of propriety, respectfulness, and kindness to Ann. That perception of Republicans as more insensitive to women certainly did not come through in the Bush election." Richards lost, and Bush went on to serve a term and a half as governor before becoming president in 2001.

So, does this mean we kill Hillary with kindness in 2016? We should try. The facts of these controversies speak for themselves. There’s little room for Clinton to maneuver regarding the messes, or any situation where bad optics are a concern. That’s probably why her communications team has declined to comment on her speaking fees to a non-profit Camp Association in Atlantic City yesterday, or whether the proper security protocols were installed on her personal BlackBerry since she wasn’t issued one by the State Department. The media will probably bring up sexism, but the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal have all reported, at times extensively, on the Clinton email flap. Clinton feels that the media isn’t on her side–and they’re biased, which all I can say is …

Though, this usually is the reception you get when you have a history of secrecy.  If a GOP candidate has a concerted, but not overly aggressive, campaign addressing the issues of transparency–and does so while shaking her hand and smiling–it could be a lingering problem until Election Day. Heck, even die-hard Clintonites are worried about it. Guy wrote yesterday that the emails–and the security over the server–carry into the realm of national security, which should be a hot topic issue for the 2016 campaign given how this administration has been asleep at the switch. Lastly, it seems independents are starting to sour on Hillary over emailgate; 40 percent have a less favorable view of her.

We shall see how these numbers fare as we approach 2016. "They [the Clintons] are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of American politics," writes National Review's Kevin Williamson. Hillary has yet to officially announce her campaign–and these incidents can be neutralized if she has a nimble, and well-oiled, communications team to run spin. Right now, it’s a ragtag group of surrogates and pubic relations people from the Clinton Foundation to fend off attacks. It hasn’t been successful. Yet, part of turning this around for Hillary is exuding a persona that’s more likable to voters. That UN presser was a disaster, an ugly Throwback Thursday to the 1990s that was only made worse by her awkward exit upon being asked about, Scott Gration, the former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, who resigned before a damaging State Department Inspector General report trashed his performance. One of his infractions: setting up a private email system.

The RNC made this video for the occasion: