August 10, 2015

CLinton Foundation and the Presidency



The above audio is a discussion from On Point Radio, WBUR Boston, which lasts 47 minutes. The topic is the Clinton Foundation and whether there is a conflict with contributions from foreign citizens and governments during the time Hillary was Secretary of State, now as a presidential candidate and huge speaking fees received by Bill Clinton from these same donors. There were safeguards set up after she became SOS, but were they sufficient. Below is a summary of this discussion. Are these foreign donors looking for future favors from a future President?

The original purpose of the Clinton Foundation in 1997 was to raise money to build the presidential Clinton Library in Little Rock Arkansas. At the time President Clinton wanted to do more after his term expired then building a library and President Jimmy Carter's post presidential activities were an inspiration. The foundation had $3 million after the library was completed and this became the seed money for the other activities.

The foundation's first major project was to drive down the cost of drugs in poor countries to fight the AIDS virus. To help fund this effort the foundation received a $500,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implement and oversee the project. To this day one of the differences in the Clinton Foundation compared to others is it stays involved in its projects to oversee much of the operations to attain their given objectives. Providing low cost drugs to fight AIDS is still one of their major projects, but there are others.

Why is this foundation being looked at by some with suspect? Many of the donors are among the most powerful people in the world. One of the foundations' principals was an active Secretary of State of this country and she is now running for president of the United States. Another principal, Bill Clinton, is a former president of the U.S. and as such commands a lot of influence in high places. This raises a question of whether these foreign donors were/are looking for political advantage as a result of their donations to the Clinton Foundation. One rating agency for foundations has put the Clinton Foundation on a watch list for this reason and because the agency found it difficult to follow everything going on in the foundation. In other words, they are saying "Donor beware".

Below are some transactions of interest that could be construed as quid pro quo.

One guest on the show was David Sirota, senior editor of investigations at the International Business Times stated, “The Clinton-run State Department’s approval of chemical and biological exports to the Egyptian government increased in volume just as dollars flowed from Mubarak-linked entities into the coffers of Clinton family concerns. A group closely associated with the Mubarak government paid Bill Clinton a $250,000 speaking fee in 2010, less than 4 months before the Egyptian revolution began. In 2012, a firm with an ownership stake in the company that manufactured the tear gas reportedly used by Egyptian security forces against the uprising paid $100,000 to $250,000 for another Bill Clinton speech”

Below is a bullet point summary of other transactions Mr. Sirota spoke of relating to Clinton Foundation donors.
  • $151 billion in Pentagon brokered deals that went to 16 governments that donated to the Clinton Foundation.
  • $165 billion direct arm sales to twenty countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation
  • During the Arab Spring $66 million in toxic chemical weapons went to governments that either directly donated or affiliated groups paid Bill Clinton personal speaking fees.
  • During a given time period there was a 143% increase in overall arm sales to countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, while worldwide the increase was only 80%.
All participants point out they have no proof that there was any agreement, written or otherwise, that arm sales were influenced by either donations to the Clinton Foundation or speaking fees paid to Bill Clinton. It just does not smell good and often something smells bad it could be bad.

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