Diary

Senator Hillary Clinton, Part 2: For the Love of Money

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

In part 1 of this series, I looked at Hillary Clinton’s flip flops on political stances, especially the Iraq War and how she does so for political expediency.

Another thing that motivated Hillary (and Bill) Clinton was money. Although she is often held out as a Senator who tried to forge good relationships with her fellow Senators, the final analysis is that Hillary Clinton’s resume as a Senator was rather thin with few accomplishments, if any.  Virtually everyone with an ounce of sense and intelligence realized that the Senate was simply a stepping stone to the White House and that a 2008 run was inevitable.  

Her campaign received a huge blow in September 2007 when a major fundraiser, Norman Hsu, stood accused of a $50 million fraudulent Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of investors.  He had held a fundraiser in Beverly Hills that brought in $1 million.  After the revelations, the campaign was forced to return $800,000.

While a Senator, Clinton racked up a $300,000 taxpayer bill on charter flights, including $150,000 in 2006 alone.  Senators are allowed to use charter flights to and from official events.  However, later analysis among 2008 Presidential contenders showed that John McCain, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama spent nothing on charter flights between 2005 and 2008, and Joe Biden spent $8,400 on only two flights in that time period.

And it was not as if Bill Clinton was an inactive participant at the time.  In 1997 donations were solicited for the creation of a Clinton library to be built in Arkansas.  This quickly became the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2001 after he left office.  It eventually became a multi-billion dollar enterprise founded as a 501(c) organization under the tax code.  

By 2004, Clinton had amassed at least 57 donors who contributed $1 million or more towards either the library or the Foundation including people like Steven Spielberg, his wife Kate Capshaw, and George Soros.  Another notable donor was Denise Rich, the wife of Marc Rich who Clinton pardoned on his last day in office in 2001.

From its inception, the Clinton Foundation had a list of troubling donors. In 2002, the government of Brunei had contributed between $1-5 million.  As of 2008, they received a similar amount from Issam Fares, a Houston investor known in his native Lebanon as an outspoken supporter of Hezbollah.  Amounts poured in from sheiks in the United Arab Emirates.  Donors from Saudi Arabia were particularly generous, pumping $10-25 million into their coffers.  Bill Clinton received $5.6 million in speaking fees from GEM Education, a Dubai-based organization that endorses sharia law worldwide.  By 2008, more than half the donors to the Clinton Foundation who gave $10,000 or more had also contributed to Hillary’s senatorial or 2008 presidential campaigns.

However, it was the Rich pardon that caught the eye of law enforcement.  Suspecting a pay-to-play scheme, the FBI opened an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.  A grand jury had been impaneled.  Directing the investigation from the Justice Department was then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey who took it over in 2002. 

At around the same time, a member of the Federal Election Commission, Lois Lerner, transferred to the Internal Revenue Service to oversee the Tax-Exempt Division of that agency.  Also at this time, the assistant US attorney for Maryland left that position to head the Tax Division of the DOJ.  His name is Rod Rosenstein.  The head of the agency leading the probe- the FBI- was Robert Mueller

By 2005, the investigation was closed with no charges being filed against anyone despite the fact there was ample evidence to conclude that the Foundation was skirting US tax laws and receiving donations from nefarious foreign actors.  Comey, Rosenstein, and Mueller determined no wrongdoing.  This becomes interesting later since all three, plus Lerner, get ensnared in future controversies directly related to either Obama or Trump.  

Rosenstein is married to Linda Barsoomian, an attorney that specializes in Freedom of Information Act requests of the intelligence agencies.  She was also on Clinton’s defense team in his impeachment trial in the Senate.  Despite representing the government at least 173 times between 1998 and 2017, her email address in the government is at the National Institute of Health.

In 2004, New York developer Robert Congel donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.  Soon thereafter, Hillary helped him gain access to millions of dollars in federal assistance to build a mall.  This is one example of the overlap and interplay between the Foundation and Hillary Clinton as a Senator.  The Clinton Foundation, despite all these donations, was running annual deficits until Hillary became Secretary of State.  Equally dubious are tax records that show that the Clintons wrote off over $10 million in charitable contributions…to their own Foundation.

The exorbitant amounts paid to Bill for speaking engagements that lasted all of an hour are extraordinary.  Whether Bill Clinton or Hillary- as a President, a First Lady, a Senator, Foundation founder, or a presidential candidate- both took, received, and rarely returned any money from a list of nefarious characters both foreign and American.  They ran what amounts to a secret slush fund through the Clinton Foundation that, despite large donations, ran deficits until she became Secretary of State.

The people who moved through the orbit of the Clinton Foundation- Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Sidney Blumenthal- also were paid or unpaid advisers to Clinton when she was Secretary of State.  Abedin was the wife of pervert Anthony Weiner and a known supporter of some organizations with ties to international Islamic terrorists.  Blumenthal, besides his job with the Foundation, also ran what amounted to a secretive intelligence-gathering operation for the State Department where he sought to enrich himself and his associates and that led to some disastrous foreign policy decisions.  One of those disastrous decisions got a US ambassador killed. 

Part of the deficits at the Clinton Foundation were attributable to competition among donors between the Foundation and Hillary, the presidential candidate.  But once Obama won and she ran the State Department, suddenly the donations flowed in again and the deficits turned into surpluses.  If it was not taking advantage of the tax code and the Foundations’s tax-exempt status, then it certainly flouted campaign finance laws.  It was not as if donations were made to the Foundation and then funneled to her campaigns.  That would have been clearly illegal.  Instead, it was bet-hedging among donors that she would either win or, at the very least, be placed in some position of power within the Obama administration where the donors could later curry favor.  It was an unspoken future quid pro quo operation. 

Next: Hillary Clinton- holding grudges and getting exonerated