Do you ever feel like all of Washington’s regulatory, ethics, and law-enforcement agencies looked at Bill and Hillary Clinton and shrugged, “Eh, they’re the Clintons, they’re going to get away with it anyway”?
Last week, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a close Clinton ally, caused a stir when he suggested that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Clinton Foundation — formally named the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — would have to be disbanded.
“I know it’ll be hard for President [Bill] Clinton because he cares very deeply about what the foundation has done,” Rendell told the New York Daily News. “It’d be impossible to keep the foundation open without at least the appearance of a problem.”
The “appearance of a problem” to which Rendell refers is presumably the fact that foreign governments and foreign citizens could give unlimited amounts of money to the foundation, donations that would look like bribes to skeptical outside observers. The Clintons’ defenders quickly point out that Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea do not collect salaries from the foundation, and thus do not personally benefit from it. Except the foundation pays for the family’s travel expenses, as disclosed in the organization’s Form 990, filed with the Internal Revenue Service. That disclosure notes that the family “may require the need to travel by charter or in first class” because of “extraordinary security and other requirements.”
The Clintons get nothing from the foundation except free travel on chartered jets and first-class airline seats and hotel stays and, oh yes, control over a giant operating budget to steer to the charities and good causes that they prefer. Practically nothing!
In any case, within a few days Rendell had recanted, suggesting that a President Hillary Clinton would merely need to keep the Foundation at arm’s length during her term.
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“I think if the secretary becomes president, she obviously can have no further involvement with it, can’t ask for money for the foundation,” he said. “They may decide to let partners carry on the work for the next four to eight years.”