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Friday, March 20, 2015

Some New Questions About the Clinton Foundation

The Wall Street Journal did an exhaustive review of the list of donors who gave cash to the Clinton Foundation during the years that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.  Previous reports had focused on gifts from foreign government which amounted to many millions of dollars during the four years in question including at least one large gift that was in violation of Obama administration policy to avoid conflicts of interest.  This time, the Journal focused on donations from foreign individuals with close ties to their governments.  The total of such gifts is staggering.  All told, foreign individuals with close ties to their governments gave over $100 million to the foundation or its projects during the years Mrs. Clinton held her post as secretary of state.  This gives rise to some important questions:

1.  What, if anything, did these people or their governments get in return for their gifts.

2.  Why did these individuals, many of whom have large local charities to which their contributions could have gone, choose the Clinton foundation for their largesse?

3.  Why did two members of the Saudi royal family give over $5 million to the Clinton Foundation which says one of its main goals is empowerment of women and girls around the world through education and healthcare.  In Saudi Arabia, women are so restricted in their activities that they are not even allowed to drive a car or be alone in the presence of a man who is not their husband.  Why is the Saudi royal family which imposes those rules giving huge chunks of cash to a foundation that promotes the liberation of women and the dissemination of birth control to unmarried women, among other things?

4.  What contact did Hillary have with the foundation during her four years in office as secretary of state?

5.  When Hillary was running for president in 2007 and 2008, didn't it occur to her that taking cash for the foundation from foreign individuals and governments was a clear conflict of interest?  Is she really that blind to propriety and legality when it comes to getting cash?

This is a much bigger problem for Hillary than her private email server.  Here, there is no good explanation to offer.  Mrs. Clinton can tell America and the world over and over again that this hundred plus million dollars was just given with no strings attached to help people all over the world, but it still looks very much like payoffs to buy influence with Mrs. Clinton.  In diplomacy, like in most aspects of life, appearances matter.  There is no way to change what this looks like.  Indeed, the magnitude of these cash contributions is so large that only one conclusion is realistic, and it is not a good one for Mrs. Clinton.

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