It seems the only news about Hillary Clinton isn’t the most flattering; especially when it comes to her family’s non-profit. Guy has documented what seems to be an endless PR nightmare that would sink any other ordinary candidate, but this is the Clintons we’re talking about–they’re the “penicillin-resistant Syphilis of American politics,” as National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote so eloquently about the former first family.
Nevertheless, the Clinton Foundation has found itself under siege from a torrent of questions regarding ethics, donor disclosures, and tax forms. The Sunlight Foundation has called it a “slush fund”; it hasn’t been the best about donor disclosure; and the Foundation allegedly tried to “strong-arm” a New Jersey-based watchdog group for putting them on their “watch list.”
The Chicago media executive hosting Hillary Clinton at his home for an afternoon fundraiser Wednesday ranks in the elite category of those who have given at least $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.
But the Clinton Foundation’s own public records on Fred Eychaner’s contributions illustrate the problems the organization has had with disclosing its donations, bringing it under harsh scrutiny and causing Clinton political trouble as she ramps up her presidential campaign.
The foundation’s website lists Eychaner’s Alphawood Foundation as a donor of somewhere between $10,001 and $25,001, but an examination of the Alphawood Foundation’s Form 990 tax documents reveals that it in fact contributed $7.25 million from 2003 to 2007. That’s not the only point of confusion: The low-profile Eychaner, a major Democratic fundraiser who started Alphawood, is listed by the Clinton Foundation as one of just seven donors who gave more than $25 million.
But it’s not certain that Eychaner personally gave more than $25 million. The Clinton Foundation confirmed that the Alphawood Foundation’s $7.25 million is included in Eychaner’s total, and Alphawood executive director James McDonough told POLITICO that his “understanding is that they’ve lumped all our donations under Fred Eychaner’s name.” It remains unclear whether whether Eychaner would still be above the $25 million threshold if the Alphawood donations were not included in his donation total.
Eychaner’s filing status on the website is unusual. Some foundation backers whose names are disclosed on the site are explicitly listed alongside their foundations, such as “Cheryl and Haim Saban & The Saban Family Foundation,” who have together given the Clinton Foundation from $10 million to $25 million. Like Eychaner, the billionaire Haim Saban hosted Clinton for a campaign fundraiser at his home in Los Angeles earlier this month.
But in Eychaner’s case, his connection to the Alphawood Foundation — which says it works with organizations that focus on “architecture and preservation, the arts and arts education, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights” — is not noted on the Clinton Foundation site, and the group’s listed donation total is far less than an accurate accounting of its contributions.
The only other individual reported to have given over $25 million to the Clinton Foundation — Frank Giustra, who has himself been the subject of intense scrutiny in news reports and a new book because of his own relationship with the foundation — is listed alongside his Radcliffe Foundation, making Eychaner the only individual listed at that high level without a disclosed institutional tie.
The Giustra relationship is another interesting angle regarding the Clinton Foundation. Giustra, who is now on the Foundation’s board of directors, seemingly benefited from Clinton’s 180 on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Giustra is a Canadian financier who helped found the oil company Pacific Rubiales, which has interests in Colombia. The company has been accused of violating labor rights–a reason many Democrats did not support the trade agreement–but they cut a few checks to the Clinton Foundation, including Mr. Giustra, and the Obama administration–with Hillary as Secretary of State–suddenly changed their tune about the deal. Both of them campaigned against the free trade agreement in 2008. This isn’t an isolated incident.
As Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer wrote, “we will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds.”
Case in point, the Uranium One-Rostadam deal, which Guy details here. In short, The deal is fraught with ethical questions, and it really didn’t sit well with the editorial boards across the country–with the Wall Street Journal noting that the deal reeked of the old corrupt dealings of Tammany Hall.
[Image Courtesy of the New York Times]
This is just another story that adds to the narrative that the Clintons are secretive and play by their own rules–two characteristics that are generally viewed as anathema to voters regarding candidates in elections. Then again, it’s the Clintons. If the progressive left of the Democratic Party were able to field a serious candidate to challenge Clinton, it’s possible that person could mount an effective insurgency against her candidacy. After all, there’s tons of ammunition to use against her besides the fuzzy politics surrounding the Foundation. Barack Obama scored bonus points with the anti-war left in the 2008 primaries after highlighting Hillary’s vote that authorized the use of force in Iraq in 2002.
Yet, Clinton’s campaign is a juggernaut; she’s gobbled up most of the endorsements from the key players; she’s way ahead in the polls; and she’s got the money. It would be incredibly expensive to take on the Clinton machine–and the progressive left doesn’t have the resources. Oh, and while the progressive left is vocal, there aren’t enough of them in the base to mount an effective challenge anyway.
While there is no smoking gun of any illegality concerning the Clintons and their Foundation–no concrete evidence anyway–there are endless ethical questions that aren't going away any time soon–and not answering questions from the media isn’t the best idea either.