Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton endorsed the scandal-plagued Export-Import Bank Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to appease one of her donors.
Clinton’s endorsement of the Ex-Im Bank at the Politics and Eggs breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire attracted scrutiny on Capitol Hill, where Clinton’s longstanding financial ties to Ex-Im chairman Fred Hochberg are a matter of public record.
We need to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and help American businesses stay in business.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 28, 2015
Commenters on Clinton’s tweet supporting the bank pilloried her ties to big business and corporations.
The Ex-Im Bank, which insures foreign companies’ business deals in the U.S. at American taxpayer expense, is a lightning rod with congressional Republicans for its alleged crony capitalism. The House voted Tuesday to re-authorize the bank, with middling bipartisan support. A former Ex-Im bank official was charged earlier this year with bribery. Numerous other potential cases of fraud at the bank are currently under investigation in Congress.
Ex-Im chairman Freed Hochberg is a former Clinton administration official and Bill and Hillary campaign donor to the tune of more than $20,000. He is also a Clinton Foundation donor alongside his mother Lillian Vernon, the wealthy proprietor of the Lillian Vernon company, which sells gifts and other trinkets through catalogs.
Hochberg’s mother Lillian Vernon stayed in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom in 1997 while Hochberg, who then worked for his mother, stayed in the Queens Bedroom.
Hochberg has been a speaker at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service.
“Huma and Cheryl…hope this finds you well…please thank Secretary Clinton for her faith in us,” Hochberg wrote to top Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills in a March 1, 2010 email. Hochberg cited a piece of Clinton congressional testimony in which she said that she wanted to put the Ex-Im Bank “on steroids.”
“Somebody asked me what I’d like to do. I said I’d like to put the Ex-Im Bank on steroids because I think it does so much good work for American companies, and I want American businesses to know that,” Clinton said in 2010.
“Hillary Clinton’s support for the Ex-Im Bank is nothing more than a political calculation,” said America Rising PAC communications director Jeff Bechdel. “Longtime Clinton donor Fred Hochberg has given more than $20,000 to the Clintons, and he just happens to be the president and chairman of the Ex-Im Bank. Clinton’s Ex-Im support isn’t just transparent, it’s unethical, and it’s the latest sign that she will say or do anything to win.”