One of the deeply troubling things about the Clintons and their supporters running a large fundraising and charity concern while they play roles in our nation’s governance is their tendency to pretend it isn’t troubling at all. The potential for conflicts of interest has long been a concern. And it’s gotten only worse with the exposure of emails this week that show Clinton Foundation employees asking then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest confidante for government access and jobs for donors.
The Clinton Foundation has raised about $2 billion since 2001, and done some good work. But it also has helped to empower Bill, Hillary, and their daughter, Chelsea, and enrich their inner circle. And it has taken money from foreign governments and powerful business interests with huge stakes in U.S. policy, even as both Hillary and Bill wielded official and unofficial influence over those policies.
The Clintons argue that the work of their family and their aides for the government and the foundation are separate. That is particularly hard to believe when it comes to confidante Huma Abedin: In 2012, she simultaneously worked for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton’s personal office and a consulting company staffed by Clinton loyalists. The emails show she was the contact at the State Department assuring Clinton Foundation employees that their benefactors would get what they needed from our government.
Also, the foundation never quite lived up to promises to stop worrisome donations and be transparent while Clinton was a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet.
As she has with her mishandling of sensitive emails through a personal server, Clinton is trying to portray this latest controversy as a non-story by twisting reality. Her campaign argues there was no overlap between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, which now appears to be false.
The tone-deaf denials do nothing to convince the nation that her work as secretary of state was not influenced by foundation business. Now, somehow, she must assure the nation that a Hillary Clinton White House would not be influenced by the same considerations.