Many of us know what it’s like to be “dead broke;” some of us know the crushing weight of substantial debt. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the connections or friends in high places with the financial capabilities of funding our charitable foundations to the tune of $2 billion.
The direness of the Clinton family’s financial position as they left the White House in 2001 may be debatable. However, their access to individuals, foreign governments and corporations willing to make contributions to the Clinton Foundation since that time is not.
The reach of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation crosses oceans and international lines. The financial relationships, given the nature of Mrs. Clinton’s time as Secretary of State and Presidential ambitions, certainly raise questions about the ethical lines that could be crossed by corporations desiring access to such a powerful political figure.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal analyzed the corporate contributions to the Clinton Foundation and found at least sixty companies that had donated more than $26 million to the Foundation had also lobbied the State Department during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. The Journal also reported that some of these companies landed lucrative foreign contracts as a result of Clinton’s advocacy on their behalf.
For example, in the same book where Clinton wrote about her financial woes, she also discussed the opportunities she pushed for companies while on a visit to Algeria. General Electric would end up winning a contract with the Algerian government to build power plants and later made a six-figure contribution to the Clinton Foundation.
Airplane manufacturer Boeing would also benefit from Clinton’s efforts and the workings of the American embassy in Moscow that resulted in a $3.7 billion deal to sell 50 airplanes to the Russians. Since then, Boeing has contributed over a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
While advocating abroad for American companies is commendable, a corporation donating money to any State Department employee’s charitable foundation would be concerning, especially when that employee could open doors to foreign governments. However, with Clinton as a likely Presidential nominee, the mere appearance of a quid pro quo arrangement raises more critical questions as to whether companies are hoping to buy access to a future administration.
After all, even some on the left are expressing concern with Clinton’s corporate ties. On one hand, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, both supporters of the Clinton Foundation, received her assistance in developing shale gas projects overseas involving hydraulic fracturing. On the other is the foundation’s action arm, the Clinton Global Initiative, which partners with 350.org, an environmental organization that actively opposes fracking and calls for a global divestment from fossil fuels.
Of course, it’s up to Mrs. Clinton to reconcile her advocacy as Secretary of State with her personal philosophies and her current role with the Clinton Foundation. However, since the organization had self-imposed a moratorium on receiving donations from foreign governments during her time with the State Department to dispel notions of impropriety, the Clinton Foundation should keep that same mindset when it comes to corporate contributions as the calendar moves closer to another Presidential run.
In order to lessen the appearance of corporate cronyism and undue influence shopping, 2nd Vote is calling on corporations and the Clinton Foundation to adhere to the spirit of the former restrictions. The Clinton Foundation should return money to the corporations that both made contributions and lobbied the State Department. Also, corporations should not contribute to the Clinton Foundations while Hillary Clinton is contemplating her candidacy for or actively pursuing the White House.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.