APRIL 11, 2008
Days after Hillary Clinton removed her chief strategist for taking $300,000 from Colombia’s government to promote a controversial trade pact she opposes, her husband the former president gets exposed for taking nearly $1 million from a Bogota group pushing for the same pact.
It turns out that Bill Clinton was paid $800,000 by Gold Service International for four days of appearances in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. The Bogota Colombia-based business development firm has pushed hard for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which is fiercely opposed by labor unions and the former First Lady.
This week the House of Representatives refused President George W. Bush’s demand to ratify the free-trade deal with the South American nation by voting to delay its consideration until after the November election. The president denounced the move, saying it damages the nation’s economy, national security and relations with an important ally.
During her presidential campaign tour, Clinton has trashed the Colombian trade pact as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed by her husband in 1994 to remove barriers to trade and investment among the U.S., Canada and Mexico. White House records show, however, that as First Lady Hillary pushed for congressional support of NAFTA in the early 1990s.
Campaigning in Pennsylvania this week, Clinton said she has often clashed with her husband on many issues—especially free trade—and that his promotion of the politically charged Colombian trade pact is simply evidence that "Everyone is free to express their opinion."
Her longtime friend and confidante, campaign chief strategist Mark Penn, was not afforded that freedom, however. He got canned this week for secretly collaborating with Colombia’s government to promote the trade pact among U.S. lawmakers. He even met with Colombian government officials, which he recently admitted was an error in judgment.
A former Bill Clinton White House advisor points out that many of Hillary’s top aides are registered lobbyists for foreign governments, including her communications director (Howard Wolfson) and former campaign manager (Patti Solis Doyle) who also work for a lobbying firm called Glover Park Group that represents Colombia.
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