There's a big difference between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Family Foundation, or at least we're told. Who says words don't mean anything? Like somebody, maybe Mark Twain, once said, a word can mean the difference between a lightning bug and lightning.
Cheers to the Clinton Family Foundation, which found its way to the front page of your statewide newspaper Sunday, once again. That outfit has given millions of dollars to benefit who knows how many people over the years. Including a bunch of charities raht cheer in Arkansas. As somebody said in the paper, from Jonesboro to Texarkana, from Bentonville to Eudora.
Then there's something called the Clinton Foundation, without the "Family" part in the title. And the Washington Post reported last week that more than half of the big donors to that outfit--those who have given a million dollars or more--are corporations or foreign groups or governments. The Post tallied them up in a feat of investigative journalism the other day. Among the big givers were the governments of Saudi Arabia, Barclay's Bank in Britain, and American companies like Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil. Not to mention the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei and Algeria.
The Clinton presidential campaign now has announced some new, mainly cosmetic reforms to avoid the obvious impression that it would be prudent for both American and foreign donors to invest in the next president of the United States. And that president, it appears more and more likely, will be Hillary Clinton as her Republican opponent continues to self-destruct. How handy to have all those chits in their hands when it comes time to collect.
But why wait till now to announce these supposed reforms? Weren't they just as much an ongoing conflict of interest when Hillary Rodham Clinton was "only" secretary of state? And why wait to announce that they won't go into effect until just after election day? Which means donors could rush to give the Foundation big money just before November's election, when it would matter most.
To quote Jonathan Chait, a columnist who leans heavily to port: This new policy is an "inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation," and shows that Hillary Clinton "has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem." Or maybe she has, but just doesn't care. Those of us who watched her rise here in Arkansas will know she's been getting away with ethical shortcuts for a long, long time and the lower she sinks, the higher she rises in the esteem of her fans--or just of those who have benefited from her largesse. "Ultimately," Mr. Chait concludes, "there's no way around this problem without closing down the Clinton Foundation altogether." What, and lose all that money flowing into the foundation from all over the world? Fat chance.
Many of those donations come from more than suspect sources--like Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch whose family led a regime notorious for its corruption and repression. He was responsible for contributing between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, lending his private plane to the Clintons and attending Bill Clinton's big 65th birthday extravaganza in Los Angeles.
Douglas Schoen used to be one of Bill Clinton's political consultants, and he set up about a dozen meetings with State Department officials with or on behalf of Mr. Pinchuk between September 2011 and November 2012.
Strange, or maybe not so strange, how the Clinton Foundation and American foreign policy kept intersecting when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Or as a Ukrainian American named Melanne Verveer, who was working for the State Department at the time, emailed Secretary Clinton: "I had breakfast with Pinchuk. He will see you at the Brookings lunch." It's all coming out in the wash, or rather in a lawsuit filed by Citizens United to get a peek at her emails.
Among those emails was one from American ambassador John F. Tefft about a visit to Ukraine by Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, "at the invitation of oligarch, Victor Pinchuk." To which Secretary Clinton replied: "As you know, hearing nice things about your children is as good as it gets." But for fanciers of Clinton scandals, which could fill volumes by now, it's peeking at Hillary Clinton's emails that's as good as it gets.
Editorial on 08/24/2016