When former president Bill Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention, perhaps he’ll explain why every mention of his chairmanship of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation was removed from the foundation’s website. For goodness sake, he’s even a trustee and a member of the board of directors, and the Foundation’s tax documents assert he spends two hours every week working for them. Why would his association with them need covering up?
Here’s why: This month, on August 20, the Foundation’s prestigious biennial “human rights” conference is being hosted by one of the worst dictators on the planet, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang. Obiang seized power in a coup more than thirty years ago and has imprisoned political opponents, censored hostile media coverage, and rigged Presidential elections, sometimes getting more than 95% of the vote. But now he’s attempting to use the conference to whitewash himself and rebrand himself as a champion of human rights.
Equatorial Guinea’s per-capita GDP is $35,000, similar to France and Japan, but two-thirds of its people live on less than a dollar a day. Life expectancy is 50, and the infant mortality rate is among the highest in Africa. Meanwhile Obiang and his family have reaped billions of dollars; his son acquired a $30m Los Angeles mansion with its own golf course, several private jets, a fleet of supercars, and tens of millions of dollars worth of impressionist artwork and Michael Jackson memorabilia. The family faces prosecution in France, Spain, and the US.
Still, the Sullivan Foundation would not discuss its decision to allow Obiang to host the conference once the news got out and rebuffed queries regarding whether it, or its directors, will benefit financially from the event. And they certainly weren’t about to discuss why Clinton’s name was suddenly missing. Aly Ramji, a spokesman for the Sullivan Foundation, brushed aside any questions about Clinton.
The Human Rights Foundation lambasted the Sullivan Foundation, saying the event will “glorify Africa’s longest-serving dictator” and accused the Foundation of joining with a man who “heads one of the world’s most repressive regimes and is accused of carrying out crimes against humanity”.
No wonder Bill Clinton wants to hide his high-profile association with them. On the other hand, since he’s apparently in bed with brutal dictators, it makes perfect sense for him to endorse Obama at the DNC.