Monday, December 22, 2008

No so Fast, Hillary, and Hold On, Caroline

Even the liberal Washington Post has a problem with the selection of Hillary Clinton as our Secretary of State. Not only does she have no credentials or qualifications for such a position, other than lying about being shot at in Tuzla, the fund-raising activities of her husband create conflicts of interest that are not repairable. She should be rejected and replaced by some one who knows what he’s doing and is not hindered by scores of conflicts of interest.


December 19, 2008 New York Post (Excerpt)

“Finally, Bill Clinton has made public the names of the fat cats, insiders, corporations and foreign govern ments who kicked in a half-billion dollars to his charitable foundation.

Not surprisingly, it's that last group that's raising eyebrows.
It turns out that, as widely rumored, the Clinton Foundation has gotten at least $46 million from foreign governments - Saudi Arabia, mostly, but also Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy, Norway and Jamaica.

Plus millions from foreign nationals - many with close ties to those same governments, and in some cases embarrassing ethical problems.

People like Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining exec who gave $30 million, personally and through his company.

In 2005, he flew Bill Clinton on his private jet to Kazakhstan, where they had dinner with the country's thuggish president. Before long, Giustra had a lucrative uranium contract from Kazakhstan - and the Clinton Foundation had its generous "donation.” New York Post

The Clinton Conflict

The former president's fundraising invites trouble.

Sunday, December 21, 2008 Washington Post (Excerpts)

“THERE IS no getting around the uniquely difficult issues posed by the dual roles of Hillary Rodham Clinton as future secretary of state and former president Bill Clinton as the head of a foundation that raises money from foreign governments…

The incoming administration secured the disclosure of past donors to the Clinton presidential library and foundation; this was an important and necessary step. Under the memorandum of understanding negotiated between the two camps, the names of future donors will also be released, albeit only on an annual basis, which seems a rather languorous schedule in this day and age. In addition, new donations from foreign governments will be scrutinized by government ethics officers. Countries that simply re-up existing pledges will be exempt from this review; only if a foreign country chooses to "increase materially its commitment" or a new country signs on will the foundation "share such countries and the circumstances of the anticipated contribution with the State Department designated agency ethics official for review."…

But however worthy the cause or uncontroversial the foreign government, it strikes us that such fundraising by the former president presents an unavoidable conflict. What is the standard for the ethics official to apply? Doesn't spurning a proffered donation from a foreign government risk creating its own diplomatic problems? What happens when Secretary Clinton, visiting Country X to press for, say, a climate change agreement, is informed by the prime minister that he's just written her husband a $10 million check for that cause? What about gifts from foreign governments seeking trade concessions or approval to purchase military equipment?

Even if Ms. Clinton is not influenced by gifts to her husband's charity, the appearance of a conflict is unavoidable. The better approach would be to allow existing commitments to go forward but to forswear any new ones.

Moreover, the memorandum of understanding does not appear to contemplate any prior review of contributions by foreign individuals or corporations, or by U.S. companies or individuals with overseas entanglements. So consider -- because it already happened -- the case of a wealthy investor who is seeking business opportunities in, say, Kazakhstan. He gives millions to the Clinton foundation, visits the country with the former president and obtains the sought-after contract. No one in the Obama administration will vet such a gift in advance; the public will learn of it only with the yearly disclosure. The new administration is buying itself a heap of potential trouble with this arrangement.”
Washington Post


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