The GOP and their media enablers are once again trying to paint the Clinton Foundation as some kind of nefarious scheme, dismissing its lifesaving work around the world.
It’s amazing that we’ve reached this point in the 2016 race — but not unexpected. A foundation that does vital work across the globe is now under vicious assault for purely political purposes.
Once upon a time, Republicans sang the Clintons’ praises for their charitable work and happily donated to their causes, but now that’s just a hazy memory. The GOP and national media are conducting a frenzied attack against the Clinton Foundation in the hopes of derailing Hillary’s presidential campaign.
As my colleague Peter Daou noted as far back as May, 2015, it’s a rerun of the “swiftboat” strategy that targeted John Kerry:
The 2016 election is not a replay of 2012 (the data election); it is not a replay of 2008 (the dueling histories election); it is a replay of 2004 (the swift boat election). The well-coordinated assault on the Clinton Foundation, the pillar of the Clintons’ many achievements, is analogous to the brazen assault on the pillar of John Kerry’s career, his decorated military service. … swiftboating is an intricate interplay between the conservative oppo/attack infrastructure and the mainstream media.
Republicans claim the Clintons are pocketing charitable donations or using their foundation as a slush fund (they aren’t). They claim that only 6% of the foundation’s funding goes to charity (it’s actually almost 90%). They claim that Hillary was bribed through the foundation to sell U.S. uranium mines to Russia (she didn’t even have that authority). Now, they’ve come up with a new way to try to make “Clinton Foundation” a dirty word.
A Wall Street Journal article discusses a series of emails released in the civil suit of Judicial Watch (an organization dedicated to smearing Hillary), which detail conversations between officials at the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. Republicans are focusing in particular on one email exchange between former State Department aide Huma Abedin and foundation executive Doug Band, in which they discuss granting a meeting to the crown prince of Bahrain, a benefactor who had given $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Supposedly, this is the “smoking gun” that proves the State Department granted special favors to foundation donors. But look at what is actually said in the exchange:
Basically, Band is saying that he made a request through “official channels,” and Abedin says she is confirming that they got the request and are reaching out, also through “official channels.” Not once does she offer any special treatment or access. She’s following proper State Department procedure.
Oh, and for the record, the prince’s donation never actually went to the Clinton Foundation. It was used to create a scholarship for Bahraini students, and was given four years before Hillary became Secretary of State. So the idea this money was meant as a bribe is laughable. Yet this hasn’t stopped the media from leaping on the Clinton-traded-donations-for-favors train. No surprise there.
Here are the facts: The Clinton Foundation is a highly-rated international charity and most of the people who would meet with a Secretary of State are foreign heads of state — many of whom give millions to charitable causes around the world. The office of a Cabinet Secretary is not like, say, a Senate office, and this is not like a Senate lobbying scandal. The Secretary of State doesn’t meet with lobbyists or constituents. Rather, the Secretary meets with a very small group of powerful, wealthy foreign diplomats and leaders — quite a number of whom, by the very nature of their jobs, are going to be involved with philanthropic projects worldwide.
As Secretary, Hillary met with many people who had donated to the foundation, but there is ZERO evidence she has ever given any of them special favors. Clinton was not involved with the foundation’s management while in office, per federal law. The foundation has disclosed all of its donors and financials with the utmost transparency, and, while Clinton was Secretary, made an agreement with the government not to accept any new foreign donors. And, guess what? They also made plans to adopt even tougher rules if Clinton becomes President. So where exactly is the conflict of interest?
These attacks on the Clinton Foundation affect real people’s lives. As James Carville makes clear, millions of people owe their lives to the work of the Clinton Foundation’s doctors, teachers, and scientists.
It’s a travesty that a charity which has for years taken on the most noble causes — improving literacy in developing countries, distributing lifesaving medicine to 10 million people around the world, promoting healthfulness in U.S. schools, building children’s hospitals in war-torn African nations — has become a punching bag, even as the media skim over the Trump Foundation’s blatantly illegal payment to the Attorney General of Florida.
It seems as though nothing, not even one of the most successful philanthropic undertakings in modern history, is immune from Republican (and corporate media) smear jobs if it means taking Hillary down.
UPDATE 8/23/2016: The Clinton campaign has issued a lengthy response to the AP’s Clinton Foundation story and its “outrageous” misrepresentations:
[Peter Daou and Melissa McEwan contributed to this article.]