Clinton Foundation May Cost Hillary
In 2010, Algeria spent $422,097 lobbying U.S. officials.
That included 12 meetings with State Department officials to discuss, reportedly, human rights issues and relations between Washington and Algiers.
That same year, the Algerian government gifted the Clinton Foundation — since renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation — with $500,000.
The money was used, reportedly, to assist earthquake relief in Haiti.
These revelations this past week by the Washington Post are troubling. Not because laws were broken (that we know of).
But because the dozen meetings between Algeria's lobbyists and State Department officials, as well as the North African country's magnanimous donation to the Clinton Foundation, occurred while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Mrs. Clinton, the undeclared 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, has not spoken publicly about the Algeria controversy.
If she does, we can imagine what she will say: That it's much ado about a trifle. That there was no link whatsoever between the $500,000 her family foundation received and the dozen State Department meetings Algerian lobbyists managed to score.
The problem with that defense is that there is more to the looming scandal.
Indeed, Clinton Foundation officials acknowledged that they failed to comply with a 2008 agreement made with the incoming Obama administration to seek approval from the State Department's ethics office before accepting money from the Algerian government.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation received many more donations from foreign governments with business before the Obama administration while Mrs.
That's because, under the 2008 agreement, the foundation was allowed to continue accepting money from foreign governments that had previously donated to the foundation, provided that new financial gifts remained on the same level as past gifts.
With Mrs. Clinton's departure from the State Department in 2013, her 2008 agreement was no longer in force. So the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is free to take money from whatever foreign governments it sees fit.
At least two foreign governments — Germany and the United Arab Emirates — became first-time Clinton Foundation donors in 2013, according to the Post. And we imagine there will be even more foreign money flowing into the foundation's coffers if and when Mrs. Clinton formally announces her candidacy.
U.S. law prohibits foreign governments from donating money to political candidates, as it would allow those governments to influence prospective U.S. officeholders. But the prohibition does not apply to foundations for which a political candidate — like Mrs. Clinton — is a principal.
That unforeseen loophole needs to be closed by Congress. Because an indirect contribution from a foreign government can influence a U.S. office seeker just as surely as a direct contribution.
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