NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 24, 2015 6:15 PM
NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings

Earlier this week, Team Clinton found itself besieged by continued questions over foreign donations to the family’s non-profit. Such inquires have lingered since the winter when it was discovered that the Clinton Foundation accepted a donation from the Algerian government when Hillary was Secretary of State, which appeared to have violated an ethics agreement with the Obama White House. Speculation intensified when Reuters reported that the Clintons haven’t disclosed their donors since 2010, despite a 2008 promise Hillary made in a move to be more transparent. Now, we have cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the family foundation of the chairman of Uranium One, who was in the middle of securing a deal with Rosatom, a state-owned Russian energy corporation. Bill Clinton would then receive a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with connections to this deal. Uranium One was a mining company that was responsible for 20% of the United States’ uranium production. Despite an agreement with the Obama administration, the names of the donors who made these contributions were not disclosed, and the review of this deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, who “are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security,” according to the Times–was met with approval. All of this, just prior to Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State–the State Department was a principal actor on the committee.

As a result, the editorial boards are showing the former first lady no love. The New York Times demanded she disclose all the Foundation’s donations and donors, while chastising her for breaking her pledge regarding disclosing such donors when she became Secretary of State:

The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.

The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.

There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.

It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.

These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.

The Wall Street Journal said this was nothing short of “graft.”

We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?

The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another.

All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.

Oh, and here’s the New York Post:

Thursday was a banner day in the unfolding scandal of the Clinton Foundation.

We learned that a Russian government-controlled company has taken control of one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the US by acquiring a Canadian firm whose chairman, Frank Giustra, has pledged over $130 million to the foundation.

Bill Clinton also got $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian bank that had been promoting the Canadian firm’s stock. And Hillary’s State Department signed off on the acquisition, which has serious national-security implications.

Giustra also reaped huge profits when Hillary reversed her earlier “clear and firm” opposition to a trade deal with Colombia.

Her ex-president hubby, meanwhile, actively promoted the agreement the same month he accepted $800,000 for speeches, delivered after flying on Giustra’s private jet, to a pro-agreement group.

Bill also hosted a meeting in his home to introduce Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to Giustra, then eyeing Colombian oil contracts.

Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation is now hurriedly re-filing five years worth of tax returns that somehow failed to list any of the millions it received in foreign donations. And Bill and Hillary’s family charity only acted after journalists uncovered the discrepancy.

The Clinton camp is trying to frame this as a right-wing hit job, while their supporters have seemingly begun to smear the author of the upcoming book on the Clinton Foundation’s dealings–Peter Schweizer–on the airwaves. The problem: it’s not going to work. Mainstream news outlets have begun investigating the claims made in Schweizer’s book, and it’s a fact that these news outlets– Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post– are not part of this “right wing” conspiracy against the Clintons. To say otherwise, is desperate and a bit nutty.

Flashback: That time Hillary said then-Sen. Obama had some questions to answer about his alleged backroom deals with a nuclear power company–Exelon–who were also one of his biggest donors. Oh, and she's Mrs. Transparency.