More mendacity and sleaze from the Clintons

The William J. Clinton Foundation, a charitable group, was started in 2001, and, given Bill’s charisma and connections, immediately began pulling in the dosh. In 2013 it was renamed the “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation”; Chelsea and Bill were and are on the board of directors, as was Hillary herself from 2013—after resigning as Secretary of State—until 2015, when she began her Presidential campaign. But the Foundation continued to accumulate money from 2001 until now, despite Hillary’s tenure as both U.S. Senator and Secretary of State during that period.

There’s no denying that the Foundation does good things despite its unusual structure (it doesn’t accept grants but uses its own staff, in conjunction with existing organizations, to dispense money). Among other things, it’s fought AIDS and malaria, worked to bring public awareness of climate change, helped bring clean water to African villages, and promoted increased opportunity for women. To these ends it’s taken in about two billion dollars.

The problem is not that it misuses its money, but that it takes huge sums of money from foreign donors, corporations, and wealthy people, some of whose policies are questionable or odious. This has lead to serious questions about conflicts of interest as well as the breaking of promises by the Clintons about the Foundation’s transparency. The critics aren’t just Republicans, either, but mainstream liberal organs like the New York Times, New York Magazine, as well as the American people in general: a poll in June showed that 72% of all voters “said that it bothered them either a lot or a little that the Clinton Foundation took money from foreign countries while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State.”

The New York Times points out some of the conflicts:

The Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars from countries that the State Department — before, during and after Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary — criticized for their records on sex discrimination and other human-rights issues. The countries include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei and Algeria.

Saudi Arabia has been a particularly generous benefactor. The kingdom gave between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. (Donations are typically reported in broad ranges, not specific amounts.) At least $1 million more was donated by Friends of Saudi Arabia, which was co-founded by a Saudi prince.

. . . as does the Washington Post:

The [Washington Post’s] analysis, which examined donor lists posted on the foundation’s website, found that 53 percent of the donors who have given $1 million or more to the charity are corporations or foreign citizens, groups or governments. The list includes the governments of Saudi Arabia and Australia, the British bank Barclay’s, and major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil.

The Times article gives several examples of possible conflicts of interest; here’s one:

A deal involving the sale of American uranium holdings to a Russian state-owned enterprise was another example of the foundation intersecting with Mrs. Clinton’s official role in the Obama administration. Her State Department was among the agencies that signed off on the deal, which involved major Clinton charitable backers from Canada.

There was no evidence that Mrs. Clinton had exerted influence over the deal, but the timing of the transaction and the donations raised questions about whether the donors had received favorable handling.

Of course the Clintons deny that favorable treatment is given to any donors, as does everyone with conflict-of-interest issues; but how do we know? Ask yourself this: Why on earth would countries like Saudi Arabia and large corporations like ExxonMobil give so much money to the Clinton Foundation? Is it their charitable impulses? If so, why not give the money directly to charities instead of funneling it through the Clintons? A reasonable conclusion is that although there may be no explicit tit for tat going on, the foundations and countries, perhaps anticipating a Hillary Clinton presidency, know that there’s the possibility their donations could gain them favorable treatment, even if it’s not explicit.

This in fact is precisely why politicians in office put their assets in blind trusts: it is the appearance of a conflict of interest that is damaging, not just the conflict itself. We have to be able to trust our politicians to make decisions unsullied by self-interest, which includes interest in getting more dosh for your family foundation. Yet the Clinton Foundation kept raking in the dough, even when Hillary was in office. Yes, what she did was largely legal, but did not adhere to the spirit of the law.

And, in fact, the Clintons didn’t abide by some of the promises they made about how the Clinton Foundation would be run.  This is from Wikipedia:

In March 2015, Reuters reported that the Clinton Foundation had broken its promise to publish all of its donors, as well as its promise to let the State Department review all of its donations from foreign governments. In April 2015, the New York Times reported that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department had approved a deal to sell American uranium to a Russian state-owned enterprise Uranium One whose chairman had donated to the Clinton Foundation, and that Clinton had broken her promise to publicly identify such donations. The State Department “was one of nine government agencies, not to mention independent federal and state nuclear regulators, that had to sign off on the deal.” notes that there is “no evidence” that the donations influenced Clinton’s official actions or that she was involved in the State Department’s decision to approve the deal and PolitiFact concluded that any “suggestion of a quid pro quo is unsubstantiated.”
And from the Wall Street Journal, in a hard-hitting piece called “Now the Clintons tell us“.

By now the corporate and foreign cash has already been delivered, in anticipation that Hillary Clinton could become the next President. So now it’s the better part of political prudence to claim the ethical high ground.

If you choose to believe or have a short memory. Readers may recall that the foundation promised the White House when Mrs. Clinton became Secretary of State that the foundation would restrict foreign donations and get approval from the State Department.

It turned out the foundation violated that pledge, specifically when accepting $500,000 from Algeria. The foundation also agreed to disclose donor names but failed to do so for more than 1,000 foreign donors until the failure was exposed by press reports.

So, the Clintons finally tried to do the right thing; or rather, they did what they thought would look like the right thing, but still isn’t the right thing. As CNN reports, on Friday Bill Clinton announced that the Clinton Foundation would not accept any more corporate or foreign donations if Hillary wins the Presidency. (Of course, they’ll still be taking that money until November 8!). Further, Bill would leave the board of directors.  There was no announcement, however, that Chelsea—their daughter, for crying out loud—would also leave the board of directors should her mother become President. And of course private individuals would still be able to give tons of money to the Foundation while Hillary is President and Bill is the First Man. More conflict of interest problems!

The question is this: why are they doing this only now, when all along Hillary knew, as did almost everyone else, that she was going to make a run for the Presidency. Why would they continue to accept corporate and foreign money while Hillary was a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State? If it’s wrong now to do so, why wasn’t it wrong then? Answer: it was.

The Wall Street Journal puts the issue plainly (they, are, of course, a Republican paper):

Now they tell us.

If such fund-raising poses a problem when she’s President, why didn’t it when she was Secretary of State or while she is running for President? The answer is that it did and does, and they know it, but the foundation was too important to their political futures to give it up until the dynastic couple were headed back to the Oval Office. Now that Hillary is running ahead of Donald Trump, Bill can graciously accept new restrictions on their pay-to-play politics.

Bill must be having a good laugh over this one. The foundation served for years as a conduit for corporate and foreign cash to burnish the Clinton image, pay for their travel expenses for speeches and foreign trips, and employ their coterie in between campaigns or government gigs. Donors could give as much as they wanted because the foundation is a “charity.”

By now the corporate and foreign cash has already been delivered, in anticipation that Hillary Clinton could become the next President. So now it’s the better part of political prudence to claim the ethical high ground.

. . . Far from offering some new clean ethical slate, this latest foundation gambit ought to be a warning about a third Clinton term. Protected by Democrats and a press corps desperate to beat Donald Trump, the Clintons really do think they can get away with anything.

So there we have it, and I have to agree with the WSJ. This latest announcement only confirms the irredeemably shady nature of the Clintons, and their skirting or flouting of the rules in their view that they’re above the law—they’re the Clintons, Jake! And no, you can’t argue that all politicians are shady and duplicitous like the Clintons. This is not business as usual. Obama, for one thing, has never been plagued by the recurring scandals that dog the Clintons.

Yes, I’ll still be voting for Hillary in November; the alternative is too awful to even contemplate. But I won’t be voting happily, and the prospect of Hillary as the first woman president doesn’t make me much more cheerful. Why couldn’t it have been Elizabeth Warren? And I’ll predict this, too: Hillary’s mendacity and sense of entitlement is so deeply ingrained that, should she be elected, I can’t see her as a great President. Sure, she’ll do better than Tr*mp, and she may even get a Democratic Senate to help bring the Supreme Court back on track. But I still predict a failed presidency. I hope I’m wrong.

In the meantime, the right thing to do is to shut the Clinton Foundation down now, and reopen it only after Hillary’s terms—should she win—are over. But of course the Clintons won’t do that; they like the money and power too much. To paraphrase Casablanca, “Of all the candidates, in all the towns, in all of America, Hillary Clinton walks into our nomination.”


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    And even more evident in this story, is Hilary going to be pushing for strong reform in the campaign corrupt money game that is Washington DC and the number one problem that is killing this so-called democracy? Of course not. Bernie or others might have been but not this one. The future is still very much in doubt.

  2. Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    A criminal and a buffoon are not the only options.

    Johnson/Weld 2016

    (In this bizarro world campaign, even the people on the Libertarian ticket aren’t libertarians. They are both, however, far more qualified than either incumbent party candidate.)

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Exactly, Patrick. I’ll be voting Johnson / Weld as the most qualified, albeit still not perfect, candidates.

    • Historian
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      As I commented on a previous post, I would never vote for a libertarian. The party wants to go back to a nineteenth century America of laissez-faire economics. The root of its philosophy is pure selfishness. If the platform were enacted, you would see a country where the very rich would control everything and just about everybody else would be struggling just to survive. If you think economic inequality is now a problem, you’ve seen nothing yet. It should be no surprise that no country with an advanced economy has implemented libertarian principles.

      This is from its 2016 platform.


      Phasing out social security:

      Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. We believe members of society will become even more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.

      Repealing the income tax:

      All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.


      For more of their nuttiness on economic issues, their platform can be found here.

      And, yes, the Clinton Foundation is quite troublesome. I agree that Elizabeth Warren would have been much preferable to Hillary. But, we’re stuck with Hillary and as flawed as she is, her policies are infinitely superior to those of the proto-fascist (as far as we can determine them).

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, well said!

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink


      • jaxkayaker
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        The Libertarian Party platform on economic issues is unworkable, I agree. It would never be passed by congress. Johnson favors the so-called “Fair Tax”, also unworkable and would never be passed by Congress.

        The argument in favor of Johnson/Weld is ending the War on Some Drugs, particularly marijuana legalization and a less aggressive, warmongering foreign policy.

        Note that the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman, who called himself a libertarian (small-l), advocated a negative income tax to enable a guaranteed minimum income. I think this is the way to go. We have the EIC, but it’s inadequate.

      • W.Benson
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Libertarians seem to believe that some kind of Gaiaform cosmic or theological harmony will kick in, that Nature knows best. Few, I think, are informed Darwinians, for the first rule of nature is that nature, indeed, knows nothing. Complex societies require a stable economy with well designed regulatory structures and fair (ugh) taxes.

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink


        Also, I see no reason to distrust Chelsea Clinton’s integrity.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Well said Historian. The Libertarians also think the market will take care of climate change issues, and Johnson and Weld are, imo, weak on foreign policy.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear!

    • Posted August 22, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      More qualified? You may prefer their policies, but I don;t see how you could possibly call them more qualified. Clinton is arguably the most qualified candidate ever, having served as a senator, secretary of state, and first lady. See has pretty much already been there. There will be no surprises for her. No one on earth, save a former president himself, is more qualified than she is.

  3. jaxkayaker
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    You’re right about the appearance of sleazy dealings, but the Republicans have only themselves to blame for their allegations not being taken seriously. Did they never read the story about the boy who cried wolf?

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      I disagree. Republicans can be blamed for many things but hardly for the fact that Hillary Clinton turned out to be the best that the Democratic party can produce.
      In my country, we regard as a scourge of our political system the benefits received by family members of politicians and the presence of multiple members of one family in politics. We have a long word for this, shurobadzhanashtina (derived from words for brothers in-law). I am now watching the greatest country in the world, after being ruled for 2 terms by an ex-president’s son (with disastrous results), now heading for a rule by an ex-president’s wife, and I am wondering what a world we are living in.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        You misunderstand me. The Republicans aren’t to blame for the quality of candidates the Democrats can produce, the Republicans are to blame for not being taken seriously because so many of their accusations against the Clintons have been overblown and unsupported by evidence, bordering on defamation. Does anybody seriously think that Bill Clinton ran the Arkansas state police like a cocaine-dealing, assassination cartel? Not without evidence, which was never provided.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    *Sigh* This is very clear although unhappy information about what has been going on with the Clintons. Given their history, it is predicted that Hillary’s presidency will continue to be marred by various conflicts of interest, and the infelicitous appearance of conflict of interest.

    • Posted August 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      In some places (nominally in the Canadian public service) there is a sense in which “conflict of interest” is subjective in the sense that perception of one is sometimes enough for there to *be* one.

  5. Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    This vindicates my definition of politicians as entities being ejected from the asses of campaign contributors for purposes of creating corporate and agenda-driven lapdogs. Hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue—even when the vice is funded by an anonymous donor.

    • Historian
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Your view of politicians is quite cynical. Undoubtedly, many politicians are not paragons of virtue. But, there are some, perhaps most, who try to do their best in a system awash in contributions from the rich. Rather than carping, perhaps you can try to be constructive and inform us what you would do to improve the system. This is not an easy task. Campaign finance reform and the overturning of Citizens United by a Supreme Court not controlled by right-wingers may be a start.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      + 1

  6. walkingmap
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I’m torn, I love the Casablanca paraphrase and at the same time “grossed out” at having a picture of Hillary Clinton as Elsa in my head.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Perhaps an even more apt Casablanca quote would be “round up the usual suspects.”

  7. Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I know someone who was once hired by the Clinton Health Access Initiative. To the best of my knowledge the person who was hired is a bonafide, high-function sociopath–a classic conman. His job: get money from rich people; talk about poor African kids with HIV to do it.

    • mordacious1
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Those people make the best fundraisers.

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes, which is why it is so hard to trust people in sales, and yet, the best cons are the ones you trust. They rip you off while you are busy distrusting someone benign.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      All that talk about African kids with HIV, water for poor villages, climate change awareness etc. is just a fig leaf and the rich prospective donors know it perfectly.
      However, you report that the Clinton Health Access Initiative did at least one unquestioned good deed: integrated an individual with personality disorder by giving him a suitable job :-).

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        That’s a fascinating perspective. And that they did. Though it appears he lasted there about 18 months before they figured out he was all talk and no dosh.

        Sadly, it also took me a number of months before I realized what was going on with him. He got quite a bit of cash out of me before the wool left my eyes.

        I don’t know who he’s currently fooling but fooling someone he is.

        But getting back to suitable employment for conmen, it would be good if they could be given posts where they can fool without causing harm. Not sure what that is…

  8. kansaskitty
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I read this site for science, cats and religious & atheistic subjects and not politics. While everyone is entitled to their political opinions, I’m sick to death of the incessant Clinton bashing that has been going on since 1992, with the media gleefully joining in. There is for some reason intense scrutiny and implication of malfeasance whether warranted or not anytime a Clinton attempts to do anything, even philanthropically. They have gone over and above being transparent with their foundation as they know they have to be with the constant scrutiny with ill intent. What the right wingers and the media do is plant a thought that “something might be sleazy here” over and over hammering on it till the public believes it, whether true or not. What Hillary said years ago is true – there is a vast right wing conspiracy against them, and the Clinton derangement syndrome has never abated. That is my opinion and I’m sticking with it. And that is the end of my political posturing on this site.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      That’s also the end of your participation in this site given your first sentence; a Roolz violation.

      And give me a break; the Trump-bashing and Trump scrutiny going on FAR exceeds any Clinton bashing. Leftists like me, the NY Times, and others are not part of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” People are even going after Ivanka Trump now, who, I believe, is an Independent; they don’t go after Chelsea.

      I suggest you frequent another website that has the political views you find more congenial.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I don’t see the purported conflict. Is it that they can influence the size of funds going through the foundation that is used for good actions? I would think that is a good thing even if it was a self interest, why else name the fund in their name if it wasn’t the purpose to use their name et cetera in leverage?

    The pressure to disown using foreign donations seems to come from outside. (Which would funnel money away from US taxes, so that seems a self punishing invention, by the way.) The same goes for the transparency idea, it isn’t US law. Seems the donor list wasn’t updated in toto after separate legal entity was spun off, which looks like a mistake more than premeditated strategy. [ ]

    Why the exceptional requirements on Hillary Clinton? In comparison Trump is hiding all his economical data, and lying on the exposed figures. (E.g. has 50 % of quoted net value, et cetera.) And he has no foundation doing good work at all, I think.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Also, removing the comparison, it still seems to me Hillary Clinton is hold to exceptional, invented standards. Never heard people like the Gates family having such hurdles to jump.

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        As far as I know, nobody from the Gates family has ever run for president. It is natural to scrutinize people who want to rule others.

      • Posted August 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        You are correct. Hillary is held to much higher standards than other politicians. Analysis shows that she is more truthful than any of the other candidates (through the primaries), but she is still frequently called a lair and considered to be untrustworthy. I think a lot of it is baggage from the ’90’s and Bill’s presidency, and a lot of it is just sexism (everything bad is worse when a woman does it). She is not the most likable character, but I’ve actually found myself growing more supportive of her throughout this process. I initially disliked her and thought she was typical slimy career politician. After watching her fend off attack after attack after attack, and reading about her consistency in standing up for womens’ rights (among other things), I am now a supporter of hers. I will be happily voting for her (as opposed to voting against Trump). She’s very intelligent; she’s tough as nails; and she sincerely wants to make the country and the world a better place (for everyone).

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 23, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink

          Very well said.

          My only reservations involve foreign policy and her track record of supporting actions that led to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and worse in the middle east. But the left is a bit hypocritical when pointing that out, since it was the left itself (I was one of them) always railing about the US-backed dictators in the middle east (and elsewhere). We wanted popular uprisings and we got them–and what turned out was a short trip from the frying pan into the fire.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Oy, Removing the candidate comparison, I meant.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      I agree with a lot of what you say. While there are questions that should be asked and answered, I consider a lot of the anti-Hillary stuff to be exaggerated. The WSJ article says that the Clinton Foundation was “too important for their political futures.” How exactly, given the damage it is doing to Hillary’s campaign? It’s one of those things opponents say which mean nothing.

      Every ex-president has a foundation. The Clinton one actually has the best record of them all for the money going to help people and not be used for administration. They make money by taking advantage of Bill Clinton’s personality – use the assets you have. Wherever the money comes from, it is genuinely helping people.

      Despite the allegations, there has never been any proof there’s pay for play. The Russian deal, for example, required sign-off from nine government entities. Even if it was true that Clinton was bought off, if it was such a dodgy deal where is the evidence of the other eight being bought off as well?

      As always, there are people who gravitate towards certain people because they believe it enhances their own importance. The Clintons are people that others like to feel like they’re the friends of.

      Having said all that, I do think there is an entitlement problem with the Clintons. They need to make more of an effort and not just dismiss those who oppose them as being of no consequence.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, they both come over as arrogant competent. And it is blatantly obvious Hillary Clinton took the election that she lost against Obama for granted. (Which is why I suspect she isn’t repeating the mistake, how much it may come off like that. But I could easily be wrong.)

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

          I think you’re right. She did take it for granted in 2008, and is determined not to make the same mistake.

  10. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I really don’t see why a charity which Hillary Clinton has no authority over, can’t accept money, because Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State, running for president, or may be president.

    Nor do I see what the problem is with the foundation taking money from where ever it can, including foreign sources. It seems to me that taking money from a nefarious organization or person is reducing the ability of the problematic organization to do harm, and putting money that might have done harm will instead go towards doing good.

    If only more money from the Catholic Church, North Korea, or the Koch brothers could be redirected into charities over which they have no authority. Into free contraceptives, education or business loans for women, or putting money that would have gone into climate change denial into climate change research. That seems very ethical. To refuse money when people are needy is unethical.

    Yes, it’s true politicians are supposed to have their investments in a blind trust. But the Clinton foundation is not the Clinton’s investments. It’s a charity.

    Hillary Clinton removing herself from the foundation was and is more than ample to satisfy the law. Was she actually under any legal obligation to do so? Any more than that, including refusal of money from foreign sources is simply to defend against spurious charges goes further than other politicians have had to do. I would like to see actual evidence of malfeasance rather than the continuing heaping of innuendo.

    Hillary has been investigated more than perhaps any other politician or even any president. And longer. They used the resources of the United States government, congress, the resources of a major international media conglomerate (one that doesn’t worry about such niceties as the rule of law to collect information) and the resources of some of the richest individuals of the world. What have they uncovered that connects Hillary, the foundation and criminal behaviour, favouritism, graft, corruption, or the appearance of same?

    Let’s point out the obvious problem here, Hillary Clinton is damned even when she can’t have any say over the foundation. She can’t have any dealings with it, she can’t direct it to shut down, or who to take money from and not take money from, but she still gets attacked for what the foundation does.
    That is unfair. How can she be culpable when she has no legal authority over the foundation, and the same who criticize her would attack her for discussing any of the above with the board?

    Hillary Clinton is being held to far higher standard than anyone else. She is being held to a higher standard than actual superpacs which have little to no ability to be overseen, and we all know the separation in superpacs is little more than a joke. Accusations that she needs to use the foundation to aid her or be used as a method of control is spurious and without merit. The money is not hers, and never will be. She will not gain from it. She is being held to this standard because of a decades long attack on her by the Republicans who managed to make the most absurd baseless smears stick. It’s disappointing to see Republicans have even managed to make giving money to good causes appear to be a despicable act. But then, that is exactly what I would expect from Republicans.
    But not the left.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I’ll let others respond, but I don’t think you quite get the idea of “appearance of conflict of interest.” Nor do you seem to realize that the Clintons do get stuff from that foundation: money, power, travel opportunities the ability to engage in policy discussions with other countries, and so on. The right thing to do would for all Clintons to withdraw from the foundation if any of them had a political office. You seem to think that “satisfying the law” is enough, but not everyone agrees. Maybe a Presidential candidate should go BEYOND what is legally required. And of course the Foundation broke its promises several times.

      Anyway, you’ve had your say, but I don’t appreciate the snark of your last line. Knock that stuff off.

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        I seriously don’t see anything snarky in the last line (lines?) of his comment. Was something deleted?

        If Rosalynn Carter had been appointed Ambassador to the UN, would Jimmy not been allowed to do the charitable work that he is known for? All the peace keeping missions? What a loss that would have been.

        Hillary severed connections with the foundation when she took office and the three of them have stated that they will do so again. That’s more than what is required.

      • KD33
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:37 am | Permalink

        Responding then – it’s not that he/we don’t “get the idea” – rather, what appears to be conflict of interest to some may not appear so to others, in which case I for one am not going to concern myself with it. And, I’d argue that it’s valid to weigh the benefits of what their Foundation is doing against the alleged conflicts – benefits which are summarily tossed aside in your post. Also, a headline of “Mendacity and Sleaze” might reasonably expect a response as in the end of Jeremy’s post and not be considered “snark” by those who don’t agree with you, no?
        As you may have figured, you’ve hit a nerve with some of us! But I for one am glad for the discussion.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      The money donated from rogue donors for a fig-leaf good cause will not reduce their ability to do evil, because it is an investment, and often a good investment. It will return to them with interest, one way or another.

      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Please provide evidence for kickbacks, or influence done for giving to the Clinton’s charity. As I’ve pointed out, the Clintons have been investigated more than anyone else.

        It’s easy to make such an assertion. The right makes the same assertion against the wealthy left. It’s never because they agree with some of the projects or charity, but because there is a nefarious tit for tat exchange. If we are to believe the right, George Soros is the most evil man in the universe, and he controls almost everything while single handedly taking down country after country.

        George Soros – The Most Evil Man In Existence?
        The difference is, they think they have evidence, no matter how poor it is.

          • mordacious1
            Posted August 23, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            Judicial Watch is a Clinton hate group and any information garnered from them is suspect. I’m not saying that everything they report is untrue, but you just have to be careful. Back in June, there was a big story reported by JW about an undocumented Middle Eastern refugee running around New Mexico with gas pipeline plans. That story was untrue:


            And here is an article in Salon about JW:


            • Posted August 23, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

              I just gave the first relevant link I found.
              I was perplexed in the first place by the demand to provide proof to a thing that I find self-evident to any adult. I mean, an intelligent opponent implies that the Saudi government pure-heartedly donated money for a foundation with the noble goal to improve the plight of women and raise climate change awareness… and the burden of proof that this is fishy is on me?!
              In real world, we often have to act on very scarce (and unreliable) information, so we rely more on our common sense that is the concentrated experience of many generations. If you teach your grandma to use e-mail and the next day some guy from Nigeria asks for her bank account number, need you prove that this is a scam? No, you needn’t and you actually cannot.
              What troubled me most in the donations to Clinton’s foundation is that some of them come from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries. So the policy of the Democratic Party to keep the gates wide open to Islam may be backed by material interest of the party leadership.

              • mordacious1
                Posted August 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                I don’t think that the examples in your analogy are equal. With the Nigerian, there is no practical alternative to it being a scam. With the Clinton Foundation, I can think of a few reasons that Saudi Arabia might want to donate to such a charity other than buying influence with the Clintons. For example, they know how bad their image is in the West, so they want to polish it up a bit. Whenever someone criticizes them on their treatment of women, they can point to all the good deeds they do, like funding various projects for the under-served through this foundation. It might not be the most honest way of answering criticism, but if it’s unethical, it’s their problem, not the charity’s.

                This is why people like me demand that there is proof of a tit-for-tat and not just a wild accusation. Most charities don’t look too deeply into the motives behind contributions they receive. They take the money, say thank you and move on to the next donor. Why should this foundation be any different?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      It is the appearance of impropriety that is troubling, and the broken promise of transparency. As clearly stated, it was promised that donor identity would be available, and they were not. Given the large sums of money, we are right to be pissed and made uncomfortable about it.
      Also, don’t think for a minute that the various foreign governments would have donated so readily if there was no prospect of a president Hillary. The whole thing just stinks.

      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Again I point out that Hillary is caught in a catch 22.

        She stepped away from the foundation giving up her board seat even though she isn’t under any legal requirement to do so, and yet she is still being held accountable for what the foundation does. Those who criticize her would tear her apart for discussing the matter with anyone on the board. She is damned if is does and damned if she doesn’t.

        She is getting this grief because she is married to a former president that started a foundation. As the presidents do. The demand that Bill get rid of his foundation, a charity, because his wife is running for president is more than anyone else has ever been asked. Doesn’t the first lady usually get involved with charities, non-profits and other ‘do good’ organizations while in office?

        Doesn’t the first lady usually go around and beg for money, time and influence from wealthy and or famous people? While her husband is in office?
        Bill Clinton would be doing the same thing other president spouses have done, except it’s with his own foundation.

        Elected congressmen and Senate members are sitting on the boards of charities, as are some of their spouses. All that is required is they disclose this information. Again, Hillary is being held to a far higher standard. Where is all the outrage at the congressmen sitting on charity boards?
        There isn’t any because nobody sees it as being a big problem, unless it’s Hillary Rodham Clinton.

        The appearance of impropriety doesn’t exist because Hillary isn’t on the board and has no say. Hillary is being judged much more harshly than others, and I believe it’s directly because of the multi decade attack on her by the Republicans. They have been blowing smoke at the Clintons for a long time. Even some on the left think there may be fire, even when there isn’t any evidence. This is no accident on the part of the Republicans, that was their plan. That is the entire point of mud slinging.

        • Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          There is an appearance of impropriety because she was on the board when everybody knew she was gonna run for President AND because she’s married to someone on the board and the mother of another. If you don’t get that, I can’t help you. And a future President has to do more than juyst satisfy legal requirements.

          This is the end of that discussion.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      For the most part, I agree with Jeremy.

    • KD33
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Well said, Jeremy (and Heather Hastie, too). I’d rather the Clintons get alleged “stuff” from their foundation then have its works hamstrung, which will happen if they do not participate personally. It has been a tremendously effective force for good.

  11. mcirvin14
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    This election highlights the problems with the very rich (plutocrats) being involved in our politics. They will ALWAYS have conflicts of interest – how could they not? One of the reasons Obama has been so scandal-free is because he came to the office largely unencumbered by his activities outside politics. In hindsight, those that presented Obama as a lightweight “community organizer” should look at the state of our current politics and think hard about the country’s and their own personal interests.

    Unfortunately the media is still engaged in its troubling behavior of presenting both sides as more or less equivalent (e.g. climate change denial). Trump v. Clinton – despite Clinton’s failings and conflicts – cannot be rationally described as equivalent. I don’t particularly like Clinton, but at least there’s some substance there, unlike Trump who makes more promises without any explanation of how these things will be accomplished. I’ve never seen the like.

    So please go ahead and criticize but be careful to qualify that criticism in light of the other options.

    • Bill
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      “So please go ahead and criticize but be careful to qualify that criticism in light of the other options.”

      The other option was Sanders, who you american letists rejected.

      You don’t get to whine about plutcrats in politics if you keep voting for them.

      • mcirvin14
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Bill ~ The time to vote for Bernie was in the primary. I did vote for Bernie BTW. So yes, AN other option WAS Sanders. The Democratic electorate and the party establishment ensured that your CURRENT OPTIONS are Clinton and Trump.

        So, you don’t get to whine that Bernie isn’t the nominee if you didn’t do enough to get him the nomination.

      • Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        “You don’t get to whine about plutcrats in politics if you keep voting for them.”

        Problem is, american democracy, at least at the national level, consists in choosing between two rich people who have been selected by a screwball process and lots of big money.

  12. Bill
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    It is absolutely terrifying the situation in American politics right now.

    Can i ask why the american left decided to go with Hillary “If you have a vagina, you can’t be a war criminal” Clinton, and not Bernie Sanders?

    I thought you democrats wanted to emulate those other first world european countries by having a socialist president?

    • Historian
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Your understanding of American politics is quite limited. The American left didn’t reject Bernie; there were simply not enough of them to get him nominated. At least by European standards, the Democratic Party is hardly leftist. It is essentially a centrist party with perhaps a slight leftist tilt. It has no interest in establishing European style socialism. The Republican Party, in contrast, since the days of Reagan was rightist and now is far right (as opposed to center-right). The closest thing to a leftist party in the United States is the Green Party, which for the foreseeable future has no chance of gaining any real power.

      • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Look, Historian, you have come close to a Roolz violations here. Telling a reader that his/her “understanding of American politics is quite limited” is uncivil and rude. You should apologize. Can you just stick to the arguments.

        • Historian
          Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          I apologize if my remarks were taken as an insult. I was simply trying to say that Bill’s understanding of American politics is not consistent with how most political scientists view its nature.

          • Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

            Thank you. It might have been better if you said what you did in the second sentence above!

            • Slaughter
              Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

              Historian’s comment reads perfectly fine — once that first line is eliminated. The description of our politics seems dead on, and I’m sure no offense was intended.

      • Bill
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        ” At least by European standards, the Democratic Party is hardly leftist. It is essentially a centrist party with perhaps a slight leftist tilt.”


        Shillary’s supporters very much believe in European style socialism, you just decided that a neocon is the best way to accomplish that socialism, instead of the old jewish socialist. The logic escapes me.

        Also, the Democratic Party spent the last ten years whinning about the Iraq War and neocons.

        Now you are about to vote for one.

        What happened? Was all that rhetoric nonsense in the first place?

        • ChrisH
          Posted August 22, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          As a European, I will happily say that there’s not a massive amount that “leftist” about the Democratic Party at all.

          In general their policies are consistent with European centre-right parties.

          Sanders seems more of a centre-left candidate, but as we have seen in the UK with our Labour party, when an old-school outsider gets elected to lead by the membership over the representatives, things get really messy.

          FWIW I’m a bit of a lefty (aka a damn communist to the majority of USians!) and think that the collapse of the centre-left in the UK in the last year has been appalling. I also like the idea of Corbyn more than the reality, and he has some really stupid friends/fellow travellers. But, as they say, that’s a whole other story.

      • daveyc
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Can you please provide some examples of anybody prominent stating that voters “must vote for the woman, or they are sexists”?

        • daveyc
          Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Not sure why my comment appeared here, but it was supposed to be in reply to mayamarkov.

        • Bill
          Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          Did you forget about the whole “berniebros” fiasco?

          • daveyc
            Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

            Let’s pretend that I did. Enlighten me.

    • Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      As a woman, I cannot understand all the hype that America allegedly needs a female president. A female can be as evil and harmful as a male. I hope that, after the USA and the world endure 1 or 2 terms of Clinton presidency, the square for “electing a woman” will be ticked and nobody will be able to tell voters anymore than they must vote for the woman, or they are sexists.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Try to look at it this way. If we have had 45 or 46 presidents so far and all of them were male and we are in the condition we are in??? Why not try a woman or two. “Allegedly” what we need is a government with representatives who get elected, actually want to represent the people and do what’s good and right and fair for everyone. Not go to Washington, make a lot of contacts, screw around for several years and then get a big job on K street. I would vote for a monkey if he or she could do that.

  13. mordacious1
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    The biggest beef here appears to be that the Clintons take donations from nefarious groups in order to make themselves look better, because why else would someone do charity work? There are some allegations, but no proof, that due to Hillary’s government jobs, people who pay in get some sort of gain. The Justice Department has investigated this claim and saw no merit to it. That means the JD is corrupt too, or in the pockets of the Clintons.

    I am a “where the rubber hits the road” kind of person, so let’s look at some of those rubber/road observations:

    90% of donations to the foundation are in
    amounts of $100 or less.
    88% of money raised actually goes to
    charitable work,
    12% goes to overhead. This has earned the
    charity an A rating from Charity Watch and
    other charity watch dogs.
    Bill, Hillary and Chelsea do not take
    salaries for running the charity.
    The law does not require the charity to
    list its donors, but the foundation has
    done so since its founding. Again, not
    required to do so.

    If the only result from all this is that the Clintons get their image polished, so be it. This foundation actually does excellent work both in the US and abroad. Until there is proof (not from Sean Hannity) that there was a tit-for-tat, this is a non-issue for me.

    • charlize
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      And, it’s not as if US presidents need to be beholden to, say, Saudi Arabia because it pays $millions into a charity as they did with Clinton.

      US Presidents have been kissing, holding hands and genuflecting to the rulers of the cradle of The Religion of Peace™ Pat.Pend. since Arabian American Oil Co set up shop there in the 30’s.

      • Slaughter
        Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Excellent points.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Good comment.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      Well said, mordacious.

  14. Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Great piece, Jerry. Clinton gets away with everything, knows it, and exposes how much the system is broken. She has the audacy to hire DWS right after the primaries shenanigans; she effectively circumvented FOIA regulations (i.e. has something to hide), and can be — as I suspect — be bribed via the foundation. Even it was shut down tomorrow, the money changed hands; the favours will follow. The US ain’t a democracy proper.

  15. Posted August 21, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I find this post excellent.

  16. Chukar
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like someone bought the Propaganda Package that Fox News, et. al., has been selling for 25 years. What’s next: Whitewater revisited? Monica, yet again?

    The Clintons have lived under a conservative microscope for over 25 years, and ever molehill has become a mountain many times over. So now you’ve decided to toss on a few more shovels full? Congratulations.

  17. peltonrandy
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink


    “Exactly, Patrick. I’ll be voting Johnson / Weld as the most qualified, albeit still not perfect, candidates.”

    Are you voting for Johnson/Weld solely or primarily based on the qualification criterion? Do their stated views on the issues have any place in your choice? I am curious as to what criterion would have to be met for any one of the candidates to be your version of the perfect candidate. Also, again out of curiosity, is there anyone on the scene today who would be the perfect candidate for you?

  18. Posted August 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Never watch Fox News. Still will have to hold my nose to vote Hillary. Just too many molehills, not the size or legality of them.

  19. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the Republicans think will happen with Trump’s businesses if he becomes president? He says he’ll hand them over to his children to run, but given the closeness of their relationships and Trump’s controlling nature that will be in name only.

    As for his business dealings, there’s an awful lot of proven crooked stuff in what we do know, things pending that don’t look promising (such as Trump University), and his failure to release his tax returns that could be hiding a huge amount.

    It’s no wonder that with all the allegations against Clinton, she’s still seen as slightly more honest than Trump in the polls.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      And amongst the proven crooked stuff, as we all know, are completely unsubstantiated claims of giving millions to charity.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        Yes! Good point!

  20. Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    A lot of old news in this post. Not sure what the motivation is for it. Are people Pro Trump here?

    • mordacious1
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s “old news” if she hasn’t answered the criticism fully (she does a poor job of this. Maybe she’s just defensive after being attacked non-stop for 40 years or so.) The one thing Reagan was good at was deflecting criticism, hence the nickname “Teflon president”. Even Iran-Contra, where he basically stated that he was too stupid to understand what was going on, but accepted the blame. That was perfect, because everyone knew it was accurate. Kudos to him, he was the master. Hillary though, is terrible at that. When she says she didn’t know, no one believes her because she’s too smart and so was Bill. That excuse only works for Republicans (Nixon was the last one with an above average IQ).

      And to your question, no, no one here (with a couple of exceptions) supports Trump. They just mostly feel that the Democrats could have put forth a better candidate (and they’re right). The Republicans could have chosen a better candidate too. In fact, anyone is better than Trump.

  21. David Baca
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Come on Jerry , leave Hilary and Bill alone.She’s got an election to win and so why not give her the benefit and stop looking for hidden motives.

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly that it’s been unseemly for the Clinton Foundation to take contributions from countries with such miserable human-rights records, and that these contributions created the appearance of a conflict-of-interest for Secretary of State Clinton.

    What’s ironic, however, is hearing the insistent complaints that there must have been a cash-for-performance-of-official duties quid pro quo on her part come from the same rightwing ideologues who lined up foursquare behind Citizens United and the infusion of unlimited campaign contributions into US elections. What do they think all that cash has been buying?

  23. Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne, I’d love to take that bet regarding Hillary Clinton’s first term, but doubt we could agree on the specific criteria of a “failed presidency.” Suffice to say, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the State of the Union in 2020 (assuming the Trump folks don’t burn everything to the ground after losing in 2016).

  24. Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    240 years into our grand experiment with this Constitutional Republic this is the best we could do? I don’t dislike Hillary but she is too Centrist for my taste. She doesn’t have the gift of a natural politician to connect with the voters, so she comes across as being cold, wooden, programmed, and out of touch. Her positive points for me are that she is very intelligent, politically experienced, and will appoint federal judges who respect that the Constitution is a living document meant to evolve with the times. Long after the President has gone, their appointments to the courts, especially the Supreme Court, impact our society.

    This is why Trump must never be allowed anywhere near the White House. The damage he could do enabled by the far right in Congress is a chilling prospect. Trump could place 2 or 3 of the rabid right’s dream justices on the high court. This would be a crushing blow for the civil liberties of minorities, the total erosion of the wall between church and state, the overturning of environmental regulations, women’s bodies being reduced to the level of breeding stock, financial regulations being overturned, etc. That doesn’t even consider the return to respectability and positions of power for those in the extreme right Christian White Dominion movement. The racial unrest would spread like wildfire when Trump and his enablers tried to return America to the Jim Crow era.

    Foreign policy would be a nightmare as Trump would cede power and influence to Putin’s Russia. He’d fracture the NATO alliance and drive our European allies into dealing with Putin’s ambitions on their own. His talk of using nuclear weapons like any other weapon would destabilize our relations around the world and threaten global security. He’s a recruitment poster/video for jihadist groups to rally around to fight the Great Satan.

    So when placed into perspective, Hillary is a flawed candidate who has issues but when you place those in context against the very real and present danger from Trump, Hillary is the obvious choice to vote for this November. Voting for a third party candidate over Clinton is essentially a vote for Trump.

  25. rwilsker
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Wow. We talk about being evidence-based and make (deserved) fun of a right winger who tries to burn NDK based on a parody, but everybody here jumps all over the AP story on the Clinton story, which is quickly being shown to be completely nonsensical – cherry picked statistics, completely untrue statements, etc.

    Should the foundation be shut done? Sure, if you want to take medical care away from thousands of people, stop worldwide efforts to help women, and close down an influential group that’s fighting climate change denialism.

    I expect this kind of knee-jerk anti-Clinton stuff from the WSJ -it’s a Murdoch rag. And the MSM seems to have a special set of rules for HRC – see

    But I expect better from this blog, which I have a lot of respect for.

    Bottom line – the AP (and other investigations) found not a single case of unethical conduct. Not one. Think about that.

    In the meantime, for balance, read the excellent analysis of the AP article in VOX:

    • rwilsker
      Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      NDT – Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Not NGK. Sorry.

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