We’ve known this for some time, but there’s more information being unearthed that shows how Hillary Clinton’s State Department became just another arm of the Clinton Foundation. First, Clinton said at her confirmation hearing that no special treatment would be granted to Clinton Foundations donors. She said this under oath. Yet, more than half of the people she met outside of government gave money to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, according to the Associated Press. These funds were delivered either personally, through their companies, or other groups associated with these individuals. The publication added that 85 donors doled out nearly $160 million:
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton's help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm's corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.
The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.
ABC News cited the emails Judicial Watch released, noting that they appear to go against the pledge Clinton took regarding how donors would be treated should the Senate confirm her to be President Obama’s top diplomat.
Katie wrote about the contents of these emails, where top aide Huma Abedin was seen as the middle person between the donor, the Clinton Foundation, and the former first lady:
"In more than a dozen email exchanges, Abedin provided expedited, direct access to Clinton for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In many instances, Clinton Foundation top executive Doug Band, who worked with the Foundation throughout Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State, coordinated closely with Abedin. In Abedin’s June deposition to Judicial Watch, she conceded that part of her job at the State Department was taking care of 'Clinton family matters.’
Included among the Abedin-Band emails is an exchange revealing that when Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment. Abedin advised Band that when she went through 'normal channels' at State, Clinton declined to meet. After Band intervened, however, the meeting was set up within forty-eight hours."
ABC News’ Brian Ross reported on this development for Good Morning America this week, where he rehashed the controversial appointment of Rajiv K. Fernando to the International Security Advisory Board in 2011, despite having zero experience in such matters. One member of the board told the news organization that they had no idea “who he [Mr. Fernando] was.” Yet, Fernando donated generously to the Clinton Foundation. He later resigned the same year of his appointment when the press started asking questions about his credentials concerning such a high-level appointment to such a sensitive national security board within the State Department. Fernando has continued to donate money to the Clintons, their foundation, and served as a superdelegate at the 2016 Democratic Convention.
Now, the question is will the White House be ground zero to cash in these favors? Clinton has lied about her private email arrangement when she served as secretary of state; why should we believe that they would stop accepting donations from corporate and foreign interests? Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, who is in no way a hard-core conservative, noted that these ethical issues are bigger than Team Clinton thinks at present. It may not cost her the election (right now, she’s winning big), but it could sink her presidency.
Given the sticky dynamics of Clinton and the foundation, it should give some pause about whether the interests of the United States would be best served under Clinton. She helped sign off on the Russians taking control of uranium mining sites in the country with the approval of the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. Keep in mind that at the time, the chairman of Uranium One gave $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation in for separate transactions while this deal was being hashed out. Bill got $500,000 for a paid speech from a Kremlin-tied Russian bank selling Uranium One stock. Hillary’s State Department was part of the Committee on Foreign Investment that reviewed the deal since it was a national security matter as well. It was approved.
And if you think these concerns will dissipate should she become president, I think that’s a gross miscalculation, just like how her campaign completely misjudged the staying power of her email fiasco that succeeded in defining her as untrustworthy.