Foreign nationals are banned by law from contributing to American politicians’ campaign coffers. They are not, however, banned from contributing to private foundations. According to Ken Thomas of the Washington Post, “Republicans contend that foreign governments donating to a foundation led by a potential U.S. president creates unacceptable conflicts of interest.” (1)
The laws that dictate the exclusion of foreign nationals from donating to the campaigns of American politicians, were put there for a reason; to keep foreign influence from dictating U.S. foreign policy.
The constitutional ban on foreign cash payments to U.S. officials is known as the Emoluments Clause and originated from Article VI of the Articles of Confederation. The text of the clause:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. (Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution).
The Clinton’s have always pushed legal and ethical boundaries when it came to campaign donations. One only has to look back to the Clinton’s many scandals starting with what was called “Whitewater” back when Mr. Clinton was Attorney General and Governor of Arkansas to current times. But here are two from the last decade. In the summer of 2007, Hillary was forced to return almost $900,000 from fundraisers Norman Hsu, Johnny Chung, and Charlie Tree all convicted of illegal campaign fundraising. In Federal Grand Jury proceedings, Johnny Chung testified that “the White House was like a subway turnstile, you put the money in, and you get in.”
In 1997, a story appeared both in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, that “hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed into the Clinton Campaign from Chinese dishwashers who donated $1,000.00 each.”(2) (3) The only problem was that when the Los Angeles Times investigated these dishwashers, it became apparent that most of them either didn’t exist, or that they had no idea they had donated to the Clinton’s. The fundraising illegalities were so extensive that according to U.S. News and World Report senior writer Michael Barone “120 people either fled the country in order to avoid being interrogated by investigators, plead the fifth amendment, or otherwise avoided questions.” “Fourteen guilty pleas came out of that.” “What this shows is that at the very least the Clinton campaign is guilty of not using due diligence in vetting out suspicious donations.”(4)
Another case shows that Hillary Clinton was directly involved in what the New York Times has called “the biggest campaign finance fraud in the history of the United States.” The story, as reported in the Times as well as on CNN goes as follows. Peter F Paul, a Miami lawyer who had been convicted of cocaine possession and fraud, trying to swindle the Cuban government out of $8.7 million, served a 3 year sentence and then moved to Hollywood to make a fresh start for himself as a Hollywood producer and promoter. In February of 2000, Paul met with Hollywood charity fundraiser Aaron Tonken who happened to be one of the Clinton’s top money contacts in Hollywood. Tonkin admittedly was obsessed with celebrities.
In meetings with Hillary Clinton, Tonkin offered a deal. In exchange for donations to Hillary’s 2000 Senate campaign, Hillary would give Paul access to President Bill Clinton for business opportunities once Clinton left the White House. In taped telephone recordings at a Federal prison, where Paul was serving out his sentence for fundraising scams, he says this, “it was a growing relationship (Hillary’s and his) I didn’t know where it ultimately would lead, but I suppose not to a good place because all the people that I met around them (the Clintons), that I dealt with in different events, have all gone to prison.”
The crowning event in their relationship was to hold a major fundraising party with hundreds of Hollywood celebrities. In June of 2000 Paul agreed to finance what would be the largest and most lavish political fundraiser ever staged in Hollywood. It was called The Hollywood Gala Salute to President William Jefferson Clinton. In tape recorded conversations between Hillary and Paul, they discuss the event. This is evidence of two criminal offenses committed by Hillary Clinton, in which she clearly violates Federal election statutes. Although the event cost $1.1 million, her campaign entered the cost at $400,000.
According to the New York Times, the $700,000 difference was used to secretly fund Hillary’s Senate campaign. In the end, Hillary was fined $35,000. and Paul was charged with Federal campaign donations fraud. Hillary paid the fine and continued to accept campaign donation money from Paul even though their crime had been exposed. Amazingly the media seemed to give her a pass. Paul has vowed to spend the rest of his life trying to expose what he characterizes as “Hillary’s chronic pattern of corruption.”(5)
In the latest example of questionable fundraising tactics, Hillary Clinton has tried to side step the laws governing foreign donations by using the Clinton Global Initiative (foundation) as a back door, allowing foreign donors to contribute. The Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Foundation, founded in 2001, has raised a sum, according to the Washington Post, approaching $2 billion. Analysis of it’s funds show that 40% of its contributions have come from foreign sources.(6)
The Clinton Global Initiative was created as a spin off of the Clinton Foundation to avoid a conflict of interest during the four years she held position of Secretary of State. As soon as she stepped down from that position, the Clinton Global Initiative was reincorporated back into the Clinton Foundation. Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee said, as reported by the Washington Post, “Unless Hillary Clinton immediately reinstates the ban on foreign countries giving to her foundation and returns millions of dollars these governments have already donated, she’s setting an incredibly dangerous precedent.” (7) When the Wall Street Journal revealed that the “Clinton Foundation had dropped its prohibition on donations from foreign governments, many thought it was an especially sleazy move, even for the Clinton’s.” (8) As Bloomberg editor John Heilman said: “Their obsession with money…has been a hallmark of their careers.” (9)
The Wall Street Journal reported that “the Clinton Foundation has raised at least $48 million from overseas governments.” (10) The Washington Post has reported that Algeria, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Australia, Norway, and the Dominican Republic are some of the foreign governments that have donated to the Foundation. According to an article in The Federalist posted on March 2, 2015 by Sean Davis, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Algeria all funneled cash to the Clinton Foundation while each country had business pending before the U.S. government. The Post goes on to report that “In one instance, Foundation officials acknowledged they should have sought approval in 2010 from the State Department ethics office, as required by the agreement for new government donors, before accepting a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.” The money was given to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, the Foundation said. At the time, Algeria, which has sought a closer relationship with Washington, was spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues. Most of the contributions were possible because of exceptions written into the foundation’s 2008 agreement, which included limits on foreign-government donations. (11)
In a recent development, protesters gathered at the Clinton Foundation to complain of missing money from the Haiti Recovery. Daniel Halper, author of Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine, wrote that “the protesters claimed that the $10 billion meant to help rebuild Haiti did little to help the country after the devastating earthquake. And that much of the money went to non-Haitian companies.” As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton devoted much of her time in 2010 to the Haitian Recovery.(12)
(1) Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2015 by Rosalind S. Helderman and Thomas Hamburger
(2) Miller, Alan C., “Democrats Return Illegal Contribution”, Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1996
(3) 1997 Special Investigation in Connection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns, Section 18, p. 9. U.S. Senate.
(4) Miller, Alan C., “Democrats Return Illegal Contribution”, Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1996
(6) McClatchy Washington Bureau, Feb. 18, 2015 by Anita Kumar
(7) The Washington Post, Feb.22, 2015
(8) Wall street journal Feb. 19, 2015 by Peter Nicholas
(9) Bloomberg Foundation Feb. 19, 2015 by John Heilman
(10) Wall Street Journal Feb. 19, 2015 by Peter Nicholas
(11) Washington Post Feb.25, 2015 by Rosalind S Helderman and Thomas Hamburger
(12) The Weekly Standard Jan. 12, 2015 by Daniel Harper