The Clin-tons. See: Theme for “The Simpsons.”

After leaving the White House in 2001, Bill Clinton found himself at loose ends. He didn’t have a ranch with brush to clear, so he started a little foundation to help children in Harlem. In 2002 he added an effort to raise money to lower the cost of AIDS drugs in Africa. In 2005 he launched the Clinton Global Initiative: an annual meeting of the smart, rich, and “concerned.”   This mini-Davos still runs, providing an opportunity for powerful people from many domains to hob-nob. However, the Clinton Foundation soon saw itself awash in donations ($2 billion and counting) from big business and foreign governments. In addition, Bill Clinton found himself much in demand as a speaker: he’s earned $26 million in fees.[1] It is, or should be, hard for any American to carp about this tale of a poor country boy who made good.

One fly in the ointment is that examination of the tax records of the Clinton Foundation for 2011-2013 shows that only 10 percent of the donations it has received go to actual charitable projects. The rest goes to administrative expenses.[2] Those administrative expenses include a staff of 2,000 that is packed with Clinton loyalists. .

A second fly in the ointment is that Hillary Clinton launched her own political career at the same moment that Bill Clinton launched his profitable post-presidency. She won election to the Senate, ran for the Democratic nomination for President in a year when the Democrats actually did win the White House, served for four years as Secretary of State as a consolation prize from Barack Obama, and is no the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President. The millions of dollars pouring into their joint account began to look very much like a slush fund and as influence-peddling.

In the second term of the George W. Bush Administration, the US sold about $85 billion in weapons to twenty State Department-approved countries. In the first term of the Obama Administration, the US sold about $165 billion in weapons to twenty State Department-approved countries. Those twenty countries had made millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation.[3] For example, the government of Algeria donated $500,000 to the foundation, then received State Department approval for a 70 percent increase in authorized military purchases from the United States. That looks bad, to my eye, but it gets worse. The Obama administration had extracted a promise from the Clintons that all foreign donations to the foundation would be fully reported. Somehow, the foundation forgot to report this one and others as well.

When the Hillary Clinton e-mail “scandal” first broke, 44 percent of Republicans thought it was a “very serious problem,” while 17 percent of Democrats thought it was a “very serious problem.” After a week of both parties spinning the issue for all it was worth, the divergence had increased. By late March 2015, 68 percent of Republicans thought that it was a “very serious problem,” while 8 percent of Democrats thought that it was a “very serious matter.”[4] That “scandal” centers on Hillary Clinton’s use of a potentially insecure private e-mail server located in the Clinton family home in New York. Under pressure, she turned over 30,000 e-mail messages that bore on State Department business. Some Republican inquisitors may hope to find a smoking gun with regard to Benghazi. However, the real issue may be in the many other “personal” messages that she deleted. Worming around in the minds of many people is the suspicion that “If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.”

[1] “The Clintons’ controversial foundation,” The Week, 3 July 2015, p. 11.

[2] “Clinton Foundation: Is it a true charity?” The Week, 15 May 2015, p. 16.

[3] “Noted,” The Week, 12 June 2015, p. 16.

[4] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 27 March 2015, p. 17.

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