An Unhealthy Relationship, Unaddressed

Associated Press
Associated Press

There’s a 600 hundred pound gorilla in the room in this year’s presidential race that no one is talking about.

It’s time for the mainstream media and Republican Congress to step up and start asking questions about a truly critical issue that’s been largely overlooked. In today’s 24-hour, mile a minute news cycle, serious topics regularly get missed; sometimes purposefully, other times inadvertently.

The media should be doing a deep dive on this issue. Congress should be holding hearings. Candidates should be asking serious questions. The issue that’s being ignored is how Hillary Clinton’s State Department improperly interfaced with her family foundation. The natural extension of this subject of course is how a potential Clinton White House should be forced to handle the complicated relationship differently.

Over the past two years, Citizens United’s Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits have produced federal records that show how closely Hillary Clinton’s State Department worked with the Clinton Foundation. This relationship made it easy for conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts to flourish. This relationship had major national security implications for the former secretary during her tenure at the State Department and those implications will only multiply if she is elected leader of the free world.

It goes without saying that the United States government has complex interests and relationships spanning the globe. The Clinton Foundation also has interests, projects, and initiatives all around the world and raises hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign and domestic sources in pursuits of those interests. It should come as little surprise that those respective interests do not mesh perfectly, all the time.

That being said, Citizens United has discovered emails that show State Department and Clinton Foundation officials voicing concern about the appearance of President Clinton traveling to the same foreign countries as Secretary Clinton within weeks of each other.

We’ve also been produced email communications in which a senior State Department official passed on classified information to a Clinton Foundation official. The email traffic indicates that senior State Department officials in the Clinton inner circle were in the business of making it easier for the Clinton Foundation to succeed. It appears that any walls erected and lines drawn to govern this unprecedented relationship were inadequate if not largely ignored.

And with respect to contributions to the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates from foreign sources, it’s clear that the 2008 memorandum of understanding agreement between the foundation and the Obama Administration was insufficient to say the least. Will this dangerous arrangement be allowed to continue if Hillary Clinton becomes president?

This topic is complicated and uncharted but it must not be ignored. There are many serious questions that must be asked and answered during this campaign season, such as:

  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, will the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates stop accepting foreign money?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, will President Bill Clinton take a leave of absence from the Clinton Foundation?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, will President Bill Clinton disclose his foreign travel?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, who will govern the flow of sensitive government information from the Clinton Administration to the Clinton Foundation?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, will Clinton Foundation donors (foreign and domestic) be barred from gaining access to the White House?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, will the Clinton White House wall itself off from the Clinton Foundation so that future potential conflicts of interest and appearance of conflicts can’t flourish?
  • If Secretary Clinton is elected president, how will she ensure the American people that the Clinton Administration is focused on American interests around the globe and not Clinton Foundation interests?

Hillary Clinton should address these concerns without prodding, but she won’t – because after all, she is a Clinton. Hopefully the media, Congress, and her opponents will focus on this issue and start a much needed conversation.