What to Make of the Latest Clinton Gate?
The fight over the White House has triggered a huge $h*! storm for the Clinton Foundation. The allegations range from pay-to-play politics (85 of the 154 private citizens who managed to meet or speak with Hilary Clinton as state secretary by phone donated money to the Clinton Foundation) to poor use of donation money. Their own 2013 tax filings certainly don’t paint a pretty picture as the Clinton Foundation spent only 10% of its grants on charitable donations.
Shocking enough? Well no, as unfortunately plenty of foundations attract similar headlines. What is really getting the media going is the alleged pay-for-play accusations, in were the Clinton Foundation may have received donations in exchange for favours by the then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Sure we need to separate the political smear from the facts, yet, without a doubt, there are some major question marks surrounding the Clinton Foundation. Lets be clear, by no means I’m discrediting all the great work they did, as after all it is estimated the foundation has touched the lives of more than 430 million people in more than 180 countries. Charity rating agencies are also pretty positive about the foundation and some argue, if the foundation was to be shut down, people would die. Nobody is arguing for that, I think, yet it shows how emotionally geared the conversation has become.
Yet, this doesn’t mean some hard questions can go unanswered. After all one would think that politicians at the forefront of priding their moral superiority and proclaiming to be a good-doers, would try to avoid any suspicions, and if it were to arise, would fiercely erase any doubt by providing full-fledged transparency? Well not so, as they continue to refuse to disclose $225 in donations. We are used to corporate good-doers, but this example shows that politicians should perhaps stay far away from charity work where complicated conflicts of interest may arise.
It’s certainly not a straightforward matter, however, what is interesting is that while many ordinary people would consider these allegations to constitute a potential form of political corruption, it may in fact not be corruption at all if we go by the US supreme courts infinite wisdom. Meredith McGehee comments in an article in LawNewz that;
For decades, political corruption meant what most Americans think it means. The Supreme Court (in Buckley v. Valeo and McConnell v. FEC) embraced this ordinary view of corruption, holding that giving and taking bribes was only the most blatant kind of corruption. Then came a series of cases in which the Supreme Court eviscerated that meaning and replaced it with the free-for-all corruption rules that insulate today’s political candidates. The process began in Citizens United, where the Court significantly narrowed the definition of corruption. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority (and providing no basis for his opinion), asserted that the appearance of influence or access obtained by campaign contributions “will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.”
For that reason they are unlikely to ever be prosecuted, even for the most damning allegations. Not because they are part of the privy elite who are above the law, as many think, but, as the Meredith McGehee argues, because the US Supreme Court doesn’t seem to think selling access is illegal. Comforted by legal precedence, the Clinton’s are likely to dodge the bullet, because the average Jo’s interpretation of good old corruption is not shared by the highest court in the US.
In other words, if donors to the Clinton Foundation—or even Clinton’s presidential campaign—were granted meetings with the State Department, nothing in those grants of access would meet the standard of what constitutes illegal corruption according to the Supreme Court. In fact, in their view, such access and influence merits First Amendment protection.
People entrust their money to governments and charities every day all over the world. The eroding layer of trust, in that this money will be allocated efficiently, honestly, and with integrity, cannot be eroded by rogues using the system to their benefit, not even a little bit. Is this the case for the Clintons? We can’t make that judgement yet, however, it has been announced that the Clinton Foundation will halt foreign and corporate donations if Hillary is elected. Mutiple investigations have been lauched by both the US IRS and the FBI the case. Eiter way lets continue to scrutinise the charities to which we give and the leaders we support in a fair, just and balanced manner. For the ones that have missed it, do check the Clinton Cash documentary and judge for yourself whether we are looking at a streak of unprecedented coincidence or perhaps false play?
Eiter way lets continue to scrutinise the charities to which we give and the leaders we support in a fair, just and balanced manner. For the ones that have missed it, do check the Clinton Cash documentary and judge for yourself whether we are looking at a streak of unprecedented coincidence or, perhaps, false play?