10) What is the relationship between Hillary Clinton, The Clinton Foundation, and the office of the Secretary of State?
This question gets at the crux of the email scandal – that public servants, even those at the highest level, may face conflicts of interest. Let’s remember that Sidney Blumenthal was in fact a Clinton Foundation employee. And who now, for some reason, is one of the narrators on CNN’s Race to the White House original series.
The Clinton Foundation was formed in 2001 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.”
The foundation’s primary efforts have been to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity and preventable diseases as well as helping communities address the effects of climate change. For its efforts, the Foundation has received praise from philanthropic experts and has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
In 2015, as rumors were heating up for Hillary Clinton’s announcement to run for President, it was reported that The Clinton Foundation had raised almost $2 billion in 2014. Many of these contributions came from from let’s say…well to do individuals. As a result, many questions have been raised about the foundation’s financial practices, its fundraising from foreign governments, from multi-national corporations, and about the transparency of reporting its donors (like not disclosing $20 million in donations).
The Clinton Foundation is suspected by GOP critics as a hidden slush fund of campaign contributions.
The day after Hillary announced her campaign for the Presidency, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said –
“But the difference is, all those other entities — Super PACs, parties, individual candidates — they can’t take money from kings of Saudi Arabia and Morocco and Oman and Yemen, and that’s what Hillary Clinton did. And so she’s going to have to account for this money.”
Priebus’ statement goes as far as to suggest that contributions from foreign governments, including from countries like Yemen, which is now basically the new home of Al Qaeda, to the Clinton Foundation, may have actually benefitted Clinton herself.
It is true, The Clinton Foundation has received vast sums of money from these countries and whether or not it directly went to benefit Hillary and her campaign is questionable. But are they simply paying back the favor?
It’s been reported that the same foreign governments ,who are The Clinton Foundation’s largest donors, received lucrative arms deals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis.
We know one of these deals was between the United States and Saudi Arabia for $29 billion to send them Boeing fighter jets. Here is a table of defense contractor contributions to The Clinton Foundation.
Of the 22 emails the State Department has determined to be Top Secret, it’s possible that there are emails which detail the web of relationships between the Clinton State Department, The Clinton Foundation, foreign governments, and defense contractors. And if there proves to be recorded evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), she could be charged with public corruption and a punishment of two years in prison.
One of the other interesting revelations from Hillary’s emails was the dual-employment of her closest confidante Huma Abedin. Huma was listed as an employee both at the State Department and at a private consulting firm called Teneo. She was also designated as an “advisor” to the Clinton Foundation at this time.
Abedin was given “special government employee” classification in 2012 while she was still working at the State Department. This has raised questions of conflicts of interest when Teneo sought to place one of their clients, Judith Rodin, to the position of the President’s Global Development Council (an unpaid post). Rodin did not end up securing this appointment, and from the emails there is no evidence that Abedin interceded on behalf of Teneo to secure that appointment. But the whole arrangement seems suspect.
Senator Grassley summed this up well
“This is a troubling example of Teneo and the Clinton Foundation seeking State Department help for a Teneo client and Clinton Foundation supporter,” Grassley said in a statement. “It raises serious questions. … Was anyone vetting the potential conflicts of interest? Were there other requests like this, and if so, how were they handled? The State Department ought to release the rest of any such emails in the interest of good government and transparency.”
What can we glean from the fact that Hillary Clinton’s senior most aide, right-hand woman, and closest confidant, held three different positions, 2 at private institutions, while working for the nation’s Secretary of State?