The Clinton Foundation is far cry from ‘Watergate all over again’

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former U.S. President Bill Clinton appear together on stage during a plenary session at the Clinton Global Initiative, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

(AP)

Let me attempt to state the crux of the Republican attack on the Clinton Foundation — described by Donald Trump as “Watergate all over again” — as honestly and plainly as possible:

“Donors to the foundation, including foreign interests, have been rewarded for their donations/bribes by getting access to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, setting up a “pay for play” dynamic that is corrupt to its core.”

That’s the “smoke,” so to speak, and in this context smoke can come in one of two varieties. There’s the type of smoke that indicates a real fire burning somewhere that needs to be uncovered, and there’s the type of smoke that is blown to obscure the truth. To determine the type of smoke at work in this case, we’ll have to go old-school and actually take the time to look at the facts and details.

And look, I understand that some won’t choose to walk this path. Some will decide that it’s too hard to figure out, so they continue to let other people do their thinking for them. Others won’t want to risk learning something that might require them to question their world view, and they’ll find it easier and safer to just dismiss it out of hand. So what follows is for those of a hardier sort, those who believe that it is their duty as citizens to get at the truth and make informed judgments about the future of their country.

1.) Let’s assume, just for a moment, that the GOP attack is correct, that a “pay-for-play” dynamic had indeed been at work during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Right off the bat, we’re faced with a major challenge to that narrative: None of the Clintons, including Bill and Chelsea, draw a salary from the foundation nor have they been shown to benefit financially in any way from its work.  What does that mean? It means that at worse, the Clintons are accused of leveraging the office of secretary of state to encourage donations to a charity from which they personally do not benefit.

Put that into perspective: Last week, while Republicans were raising hell about Clinton allegedly selling access to donors to a charity, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, among other top Republicans, traveled to a ritzy resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

They weren’t there for a summer vacation, but to rub elbows for two days with more than 100 of the GOP’s top donors, many of whom had flown to Jackson Hole on their private jets. In short, in return for massive donations to the Republican Party, those donors were being given extensive face-to-face access to top political leaders that is unavailable to other Americans. “Pay for play”, in other words, and on a grand scale. And in stark contrast to the Clinton Foundation, those donations were going not to charitable work benefiting others, but to political efforts that would directly benefit Ryan and his allies.

There is no rational standard by which you claim that what Clinton is alleged to have done even approaches the corrupting “pay-for-play” ethos that now permeates political fundraising in Washington by both parties.

2.) The Clinton Foundation has earned a “A” rating from CharityWatch. According to the ratings agency, it considers a charity to be “highly efficient” when it spends at least 75 percent of its budget on program delivery, and when it spends $25 or less to raise $100. The Clinton Foundation spends 88 percent of its budget on program delivery; it spends just $2 to raise $100.

“We can only judge organizations based on their own financial disclosures, corporate governance, and level of transparency,” CharityWatch President Danial Borochoff told Fortune. “And by those accounts, the Clinton Foundation has a strong record. They reveal much more information about themselves than many other charities.”

3.) There is little to no evidence that Clinton did sell access to foundation donors.

The Clinton Foundation does much of its work in places such as Africa, Haiti, India, Asia and Latin America. It tackles international issues such as climate change, educational opportunity for girls, children’s health, AIDS, agricultural productivity and poverty. The State Department is also deeply involved in those very same regions, working those same international issues. So it’s not a scandal that as secretary of state, Clinton would have a lot of contact with many of the same people whom she knew at the foundation. It’s an absolute certainty.

Last week, for example, critics focused on two specific instances in which donations to the foundation were alleged to have resulted in meetings with Secretary Clinton.

— Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, who sponsors a $32 million scholarship program for Bahraini students under the auspices of the Clinton Foundation, asked for and received a meeting with Secretary Clinton. As outlined in more detail in an earlier post, Bahrain is a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, and Salman is a top defense official and more importantly the designated heir to the Bahraini throne. In the past he has met often with top U.S. officials, including President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The notion that he would have to give money to the Clinton Foundation to get a meeting with then-Secretary Clinton is absurd.

In its story on the Clinton Foundation, the Associated Press last week focused heavily on the example of Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist. Yunus has worked closely with the Clinton Foundation through his nonprofit Grameen Bank, which offers microloans to help poor women start small businesses. He also met repeatedly with Clinton as secretary of state. The AP story used Yunus as its primary example of the supposedly questionable interplay between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department under Clinton’s leadership.

Again, it’s absurd. Yunus is not a conniving businessman trying to leverage powerful friends in a scam. He is the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner. He has been awarded the congressional gold medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  His nonprofit has given millions of extremely poor women access to small but crucial amounts of capital to help make better lives for themselves and their families. And when the government of Bangladesh tried to remove him from the Grameen Bank on trumped-up charges, he asked for — and got — Clinton’s assistance. That’s not a scandal, it’s called doing the job.

So if you’re still reading this, congratulations and thank you. The system assumes that you’re not willing to put in the effort to look deeper; you’re supposed to just obediently assume that if such serious charges are being made, there must be something concrete to them. That’s one of the ways in which the system is rigged against you, and you have refused to play along. No matter what conclusions you have drawn from this, you have committed a subversive act just by caring about what the truth really is.

Reader Comments 0

1842 comments
Madisonian92
Madisonian92

Well analyzed, Jay.  Even intelligent Republicans know that there is nothing but credit due the Clinton Foundation. Unfortunately, . . .

TBS
TBS

"@Visual_Cortex the kid has gone from enjoying faith he would be THE quarterback in San Francisco, clean cut, etc. to possibly being traded, groomed like an FBI terrorist wanted poster, and drawing unflattering attention to himself"

Actually he was benched last year and struggling in camp this year. He probably wasn't going to be the starter and the team has been looking to trade him.

All that said .. Good for him if he thinks his stance will make a difference

skydog12
skydog12

@TBS


Did make a difference. Jay just posted a CK piece.

Paul42
Paul42

@foo2u

The guy IS consistent.

Consistently lies.

Frankly, I'm wondering if he even knows the difference.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Little Marco is running to be a half time Senator, he will not commit to the full six years.  

Paul42
Paul42

@StraightNoChaser

Just like Trump not guaranteeing he'd complete a full term.  This new conservatism is anything but.

goat diddler
goat diddler

Kingston is on MSNBC lying his arse off...


goat diddler
goat diddler

"we wanna protect the wages of Murican workers"...

translation:

"we want to make sure the minimum wage won't go up for American workers"...

skydog12
skydog12

Any rock and roll band, club, fraternity, church, or country that makes you pledge allegiance, is not much of an organization.


I joined on my own free will and I will quit when I desire.


I would never join an organization that would have ME as one of it`s members.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Just say the pledge with your fingers crossed. It's been SOP in the military for decades.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@skydog12 They believe in Dogma. Republicans would fit right in in North Korea etc


Real Americans believe in freedom. We may not agree with someones stance regarding the anthem


But we believe dissent is essential and should be respected. 

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Trump is calling Abedin a terrorist


Trump is always calling someone names but if he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

@StraightNoChaser The shunned one is right below here saying the Clintons want to establish a caliphate in Detroit. So, his followers are learning real good how to use the best words.

Paul42
Paul42

@DaltonbywayofBickley


I'm amazed at the number of people who follow along with his 'this word means whatever I want it to mean.  Until I change my mind" routine.

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@Paul42 @DaltonbywayofBickley 

Tomorrow's speech: 

Trump voter: "I like Trump because he says exactly what he means."

Trump: “Not Amnesty - we’ll send them out and let them come back”  
Trump voter: “He didn't mean that.”

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Bill and Hillary want to put the Syrian refugees to work in Detroit remodeling the many abandoned but structurally sound houses.

Wait a minute.

Does that mean they favor putting refugees ahead of unemployed people on Detroit?

Yep

And, does that mean they favor congregating the refugees in a single location so they can ban together and not assimilate?

You know, build that mosque, radicalize, Sharia law, etc.

Yep

Well, those Clinton's certainly would be great in the White House, now wouldn't they? 

Paul42
Paul42

@JohnnyReb

Is there a reason you never link to the original breitbart article?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Paul42 @JohnnyReb it's better for you guys to dig for the info to disprove me.

Otherwise, you would see Brietbart and do nothing.

And BTW, the Brietbart article, if you took time to read it, is from a public forum where old Bill spoke.  Brietbart did not make it up.

Paul42
Paul42

@JohnnyReb

Fearless people provide the source.  

Wise people look to the original, then then breitbart version, to see what was changed.

You should try it sometime.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I knew I should of wore boots today. JR's got me knee deep.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

By the way, why does anyone especially care if sportsball people choose not to stand for the National Anthem?

I can see taking note that someone is doing something unusual, perhaps, but to get all nutzoid about it? huh?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Visual_Cortex the kid has gone from enjoying faith he would be THE quarterback in San Francisco, clean cut, etc. to possibly being traded, groomed like an FBI terrorist wanted poster, and drawing unflattering attention to himself.

The rumor mill has him dating a Muslim girl with his intent to convert to Islam.  Which in itself is OK but couple it with dishonoring the nation and the optics are terrible.

My guess is, he can kiss his NFL career good bye and enjoy fading into marital bliss under Allha. 

Paul42
Paul42

@Visual_Cortex

Remember all the hoopla when Pres Obama didn't wear a lapel flag pin?

Some people have interesting ideas on litmus tests for patriotism.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Did not see a single flag pin worn at that DNC confab.

Dems avoided doing so on purpose.

Why?

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

No flags at all until it became an issue. They then tucked a few on the side of the stage.

Prominent =/= Hidden, like they were

Paul42
Paul42

@Philo_Farnsworth

Still buying all the lies from the rightwing sites because they can't win an argument using truth?

Rather like "no prayers' meme even when shown the opening prayer clip and the program.

You guys project anything bad you can think of on your opponents and imagine it's true because you thought of it.

Paul42
Paul42

@Philo_Farnsworth

What does it signify to you, Philo?

What do you automatically assume when you see a person wearing one?

Isn't there something in your philosophy about not looking on the outer vessel?