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Friday, December 21, 2007

Clinton's Overlapping Donors Raises Potential Confict

The new York Times has compiled the first list of 97 donors that gave or pledged $69 million for the Clinton presidential library in the final years of the Clinton administration. Hillary Clinton has tapped at least two dozen of them, as "Hillraisers".
The New York Times findings are based on tax documents from the Clinton foundation and groups that have contributed to it, federal government records, analysis of campaign finance data and interviews with donors and people with direct knowledge of the foundations activities.

In raising record sums for her campaign, Mrs. Clinton has tapped many of the foundation’s donors. At least two dozen have become “Hillraisers,” each bundling $100,000 or more for her presidential bid. The early library donors, combined with their families and political action committees, have contributed at least $784,000 to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate and presidential coffers.

The potential conflict is apparent as evidenced by Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat that introduced a bill, in March, passed the House, 390-34, but stalled in the Senate, to force disclosure of presidential foundation donors. Waxman stated at the time "The vast scale of these secret fund-raising operations presents enormous opportunities for abuse."

Clinton rivals make the argument that donors could use presidential foundations to bypass campaign finance laws intended to limit political influence of any single donor. Federal election law prohibits foreign donations to presidential campaigns as well as limiting Americans to $2,300 per election.

Presidential foundations have no such limit nor rules about foreign donations, as evidenced by the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, all who have made donations to the Clinton Foundation of unknown amounts.

The New York Times examination also found that some of the $1 million contributors to the Clinton library in the final years of Clinton's term were seeking policy changes from the administration as well as two that had pledged a million dollars were under investigation at the time by the Justice Department.

Additionally the Times reports that other donations were from supporters who were involved in the campaign finance scandal that surrounded Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign.

The Clinton Foundation and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign have been connected in other ways also.

Terry McAuliffe, is on Hillary's campaign as chairman and chief fund-raiser as well as sitting on the board of the Clinton Foundation and led in fund-raising for the foundation.

Cheryl Mills serves as general counsel to the Hillary Clinton campaign and also sits on the board of the Clinton Foundation.

Jay Carson is Hillary's campaign press secretary and recently gave up his communications position for the Clinton Foundation.

Other suspicious donations made to the Clinton library can be found here, which include, but is not limited to:

"William A. Brandt Jr., a bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago and prolific Democratic fund-raiser, pledged $1 million in May 1999. At the time, the Justice Department was investigating Mr. Brandt’s testimony to Congress about a $10,000 per couple fund-raiser he had held for the president’s 1996 re-election campaign."

In August 1999, the Justice Department determined that “prosecution is not warranted.”

Mr. Brandt, is now a "Hillraiser".

"Bernard L. Schwartz, another major Democratic contributor who was then chief executive of Loral Space and Communications, gave $250,000 and pledged $750,000 more in 2000. At the time, investigators were trying to determine if Loral had improperly provided satellite technology to China. Under the Bush administration, Loral agreed to pay a civil fine of $14 million to settle the case. "

Mr. Schwartz, is also a "Hillraiser" now.

Nine of the original library donors received presidential appointments, two of which, Mark S. Weiner and Vinod Gupta, in his final days in office.