One of the ways Donald Trump has been able to curry favor among an electorate that's increasingly fed up with business as usual inside the Beltway, is to appeal to voters’ ingrained belief that everyone in Washington is effectively beholden to outside interests and campaign donors.
By virtue of his self-funded campaign, Trump isn’t beholden to anyone - or at least that’s what he’ll tell you.
Perhaps more than any other candidate, Hillary Clinton raises eyebrows when it comes to conflicts of interest. As we documented extensively earlier this year, contributions to the Clinton Foundation have come under scrutiny, especially after the charity said it would refile five years of tax returns after failing to properly account for donations from foreign governments.
As IB Times reported back in May, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved $165 billion in arms deals to nations who had previously given money to the Clinton Foundation. The charity also received some $7 million in donations from the MIC which benefited directly from State Department arms export approvals:
But it wasn’t just charity donations that drew public scrutiny.There was also the issue of Bill and Hillary’s lucrative speaking engagements which pay nearly a quarter of a million dollars a pop. Here is the complete breakdown for the couple:
Obviously, the potential exists for those paying for the speeches to use the lucrative events as a way to gain undue influence over what goes on in Washington. For instance, some suggest there may be a connection between a $200,000 payment made to Bill Clinton by Goldman Sachs in 2011 and the bank’s efforts to lobby the State Department ahead of legislation involving the Export-Import Bank which was set to provide a loan that would end up financing the purchase of millions of dollars in aircraft from a company partially owned by Goldman.
On Thursday, WSJ is out with a fresh look at the connection between Clinton's State Department and her husband's speaking tour.
"More than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department," The Journal says, adding that "fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity." Here's more:
In several instances, State Department actions benefited those that paid Mr. Clinton.
Mr. Clinton, for example, collected $1 million for two appearances sponsored by the Abu Dhabi government that were arranged while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. His speeches there came during and after the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were involved in discussions about a plan to open a U.S. facility in the Abu Dhabi airport to ease visa processing for travel to the U.S. The State Department supported the facility in the face of substantial opposition from unions, members of Congress and others.
Mr. Clinton was paid for more than 200 speeches while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, according to his wife’s disclosure forms. Documents released thus far by the State Department show the ethics office turned down five of his speech requests, including proposed talks sponsored by North Korea, China and the Republic of Congo.
The State Department got involved in the Abu Dhabi matter after the capital of the United Arab Emirates asked for a facility to clear travelers for U.S. entry before they boarded planes so they could avoid delays when arriving in the U.S.
According to two former State Department officials who worked on the matter, the U.S. wanted to help an important ally.
U.S.-based airlines, which have no direct flights between Abu Dhabi and the U.S., opposed the idea as a giveaway to the government-owned airline, Etihad Airways.
While Mrs. Clinton’s State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were working out a “letter of intent” with Abu Dhabi for the facility, Mr. Clinton sought permission to give a paid speech in Abu Dhabi.
On Dec. 6, 2011, U.S. officials signed the letter of intent. One week later, Mr. Clinton gave a 20-minute talk on climate change to the Abu Dhabi government environmental gathering. He collected $500,000, his wife’s disclosure report shows.
Mr. Clinton also had a large payday from Oracle Corp.: a total of $500,000 for two talks given or approved while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. He gave one in October 2012 as the company was urging the State Department to increase the number of skilled-worker visas being issued, lobbying reports show.
And on, and on.
Of course the Clinton's deny there's any connection despite the rather obvious parallels and convenient timing. "No evidence exists" to link any actions taken by Mrs. Clinton’s State Department to organizations hosting Mr. Clinton’s speeches, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told The Journal.
Yes, "no evidence exists," other than the $8 million Bill made from speeches made to companies who had "matters pending" with Hillary's State Department. That's just a coincidence.
Don't worry though - none of this will happen if Hillary wins the White House. Bill says that although he'll still give speeches "on subjects [he's] interested in," he "doesn't think" he'll accept any payment.