Clinton Finances: White House or Big House?
The Clinton Foundation and its global spawn are back in the news with Monday’s “refiling” of IRS tax returns from 2010 through 2013. The numbers are staggering. $20 million, most of it from foreign governments, directed to the foundation while Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state. About $338 million in 2014, as reported in a separate filing, as Mrs. Clinton ramped up her run for the presidency. The foundation itself, noted The Non-Profit Times, “reported total revenue of $177 million for 2014 but consolidated financial statements, which would combine the assorted Clinton initiatives,” brings the total close to $338 million. Apparently that does not include the $25 million the Clintons made giving speeches in 2014 and the beginning of 2015. Nor, apparently, does it include the $48 million Bill Clinton earned from speeches while his wife was secretary of state, as first disclosed in a joint Judicial Watch/Washington Examiner investigation.
Or does it? A storm of numbers is gathering. Financial professionals and investigative journalists will be digging into the Clinton tax returns in the weeks ahead. The updated returns can be found here.
With the release, Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala issued an oddly worded letter assuring supporters that the organization was not actually required to amend the returns, that there is “no change in our bottom line numbers” and that “we do not owe any taxes.”
Elsewhere in Investigative Bulletin, we have explored the incredible political machine that is Clinton Inc., a kind of 21st Century version of Tammany Hall. Like George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany fame, the Clintons saw their opportunities and they took them. Until now, they’ve gotten away with it. Will a close examination of their vast financial syndicate change that?
The history of Tammany Hall is instructive. Much of its “corruption” was the common political practice of the day—until it went too far, too long, and reformers brought it down.
Similarly, the Clintons often appear to operate within the law, but on an epic scale, and with a subtext any dunderhead would understand. As Bernie Sanders noted at the last debate, “millions of dollars” flow to the Clintons because donors “expect to get something. Everybody knows that.”
Sanders was describing campaign contributions from Wall Street, not donations to the foundation. But the description applies to the foundation as well. In fact, properly understood, the foundation is a part of the campaign.
Plenty of investigators are on the Clinton money trail—journalistic teams, oppo researchers, and tenacious financial experts such as investment adviser Charles Ortel, who months ago smelled a rat in the Clinton charity paperwork. Ortel’s findings, in encyclopedic detail, can be found on his website. He says there are “epic problems with the entire Clinton Foundation complex of supposed charities.” He notes that “several supposedly independent and accredited accounting firms…appear to have been duped by false and materially misleading representations made to them” by Clinton charitable entities.
In Harper’s yesterday, investigative reporter Ken Silverstein brushed off the emerging round of foundation finances stories as another example of the media’s fetish for “balance.” Current reporting on the foundation, Silvertsein wrote, evades “what is already evident, namely that the Clintons have used their foundation for crass profiteering and influence peddling.”
Detailing some of Clinton Inc.’s seamier connections, Silverstein writes: “If the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies do their jobs, the foundation will be closed and its current and past trustees, who include Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton, will be indicted. That’s because their so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich Clinton family friends.”
Mrs. Clinton pledged her commitment to “the highest standards of ethical conduct” on assuming the position of secretary of state. In a letter to the State Dept. legal adviser specifically drafted to address concerns about the Clinton Foundation, the incoming secretary of state promised not to “participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that has a direct effect” on the foundation.
The existing record—State Dept. emails, legal cases such as those brought by Judicial Watch and other groups, investigative journalism, testimony of top aides—already demonstrates that Mrs. Clinton has violated that pledge. If investigators such as Ortel and Silverstein are correct, the entire Clinton financial edifice is a Tammany-like fraud.
The FBI is following Mrs. Clinton’s email trail, which already shows that her top aides at the State Dept. were in regular contact with the foundation and that furious lobbying for access and influence flowed toward the secretary of state from the likes of Sidney Blumenthal (a Clinton Foundation employee) and private businessman Joe Wilson. Others angling for deals and poised to profit from a State Dept. connection, as author Peter Schweizer has shown in his book, “Clinton Cash,” included Russian intelligence alumni connected to a Kazakh uranium deal and a Canadian mining baron who contributed millions to the Clinton Foundation.
The FBI should follow the email trail into the Clinton Foundation money. The Clintons are powerful and indictments appear unlikely—it’s still a much better bet that they will wind up in the White House, not the Big House—but stranger things have happened in American politics. Remember Watergate. Or Teapot Dome.