The chairman of the Republican National Committee — joined by a former federal prosecutor Tuesday — rejected efforts by team Clinton to reform the practices of the Clinton Foundation and other related charities as meaningless distractions.
“The conflicts of interests surrounding the Clinton Foundation have become now so egregious that she has been forced to pull off an election year gimmick to sweep these issues under the rug,” said Reince Priebus, who leads the Republican National Committee on a conference call with national political reporters. The chairman said:
We have been hearing for years now that the Clinton Foundation posed no conflicts and that everything has been and everything will be above board–it’s all good stuff happening there–and that there would be no changes to the foundation’s policies. Well, if that’s true? Why make the changes now–two months before an election? Why not have them in place when she was running in 2008, when she was running for president or when she was the secretary of state or during the campaign?
The GOP chairman was referring to the announcement by President William J. Clinton that if his wife, Hillary R. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee is elected president, the family would change their relationship to the foundation and other associated organizations.
“If she is elected, we will immediately implement the following changes: The Foundation will accept contributions only from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S.-based independent foundations, whose names we will continue to make public on a quarterly basis,” the former president said. The legal name of the foundation would also change. “And we will change the official name from the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to the simply Clinton Foundation,” Clinton added.
“While I will continue to support the work of the Foundation, I will step down from the Board and will no longer raise funds for it,” the president said. “Much of the Foundation’s international work, like that of most global NGOs, is funded in part by donor governments’ bilateral aid programs. If Hillary is elected, we will transition those programs out of the Foundation to other organizations committed to continuing their work.”
Priebus said he was not impressed, nor was he filled with a fresh reservoir of trust of the Clinton family. “Stonewalling and avoiding transparency–those are the hallmarks of the Clinton Machine, even in organizations that are supposed to be philanthropic endeavors.”
The reason the Clintons never operated their charities and foundations in the way the former president proposes is that the whole point of the charities and foundations was to launder money from cronies and donors gained through unethical behavior and abuses of power, Priebus said.
Just as they once used the State Department, the Clintons have every intention of leveraging the entire federal government for their pay-for-play schemes, using the Clinton Foundation as both the ethical cloak and the rinsing agent, he said.
Priebus said when the former first lady became secretary of state, she signed an agreement with the president in which she promised not to co-mingle the interests of the American people with the foundation, but that promise was broken from the start.
“Most alarming, the Clinton Foundation failed to submit any foreign government donations to the administration for independent ethics reviews. To date, the foundation has received from $21 to $65 million from Middle Eastern countries that have horrendous records on gay rights, women’s rights, and religious liberties,” he said. “None of that money should have been accepted and all of it needs to be returned today.”
Robert Ray was the other man on the call. Ray is a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and he served as an independent counsel during the investigation into the Clintons’ involvement in phony land development schemes by the Whitewater Land Development company and the Madison Savings and Loan.
Ray said the Clintons used their non-profit entities to skirt federal lobbying and federal campaign finance laws.
“Unlike campaign contributions, federally-registered lobbyists, corporate interests, and foreign governments can lawfully make donations on behalf of clients to not-for-profit foundations,” he said.
The former prosecutor said The Wall Street Journal investigation into this angle revealed that 60 companies petitioning the State Department gave the Clinton Foundation more than $26 million.
“Just because Bill Clinton is stepping down from the board and ceasing active fundraising activities hardly removed conflicts of interest,” Ray said.
Ray said there are plenty of other individuals who will act on behalf of donors to make sure their needs are met by a second Clinton administration.
“If Hillary Clinton were elected, if Doug Band or Terry McAuliff or Donna Shalala goes on the board and raises money for the foundation, they can be expected to email their pals in the Clinton administration with requests for access and favors on behalf of donors just like before,” Ray said.
What happens at the Clinton Foundation remains to be seen, he said.
“Statements of intention, even from a former president, mean little or nothing without strong independent oversight,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen this all before.”