Hillary Clinton, after learning there is a chance that hackers could release potentially embarrassing Clinton Foundation emails before the November elections, has announced that if she is elected president the foundation will no longer accept the foreign and corporate donations that have convinced all but her most loyal sycophants that she may well have been peddling influence to the highest bidder as secretary of state.
It is as if Willie Sutton, after robbing enough banks to ensure a comfortable retirement, had announced that bankers and their depositors could stop worrying because he would stop if given the key to the city.
An apology and a promise to go straight in the future does not excuse one’s past transgressions, even if such a promise might influence a parole board to give a criminal who has served a good portion of his or her sentence an early release and a second chance. Mrs. Clinton, for her part, apologizes for nothing, but is now promising to stop doing something that she has always defended as legitimate and above board.
The Clinton Foundation has from the beginning appeared to be just what the Sunlight Foundation — a “progressive” foundation promoting nonprofit transparency — described it as some years ago: “a slush fund.” Its mission has not been to vanquish disease and poverty as Hillary and Bill have claimed, but to allow the Clintons to keep their political army housed, clothed and fed as they prepared for Hillary’s presidential campaign.
Last year, Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog that rates charities, put the Clinton Foundation on its “watch list” as a warning to potential contributors because so much Clinton Foundation money was going to salaries, overhead and luxury travel rather than to fulfilling its stated mission.
To finance all this, the Clintons sought and accepted huge contributions from foreign interests wishing to influence U.S. policy. After all, a former president and a sitting secretary of State are in a better position to deliver than your average influence peddler. The aforementioned Mr. Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks and answered straightforwardly that he did so because “that’s where the money is.” The Clintons milked foreign interests for precisely the same reason and had to know that doing so would, when revealed, look smarmy at best and would raise questions about what these folks got for their money.
The extent to which the foundation depended on foreign and corporate cash was underscored last week by a Washington Post study revealing that fully 53 percent of the foundation’s million-dollar-plus donors are foreign government or corporate entities that would no longer be able give under the new announced rules. That’s a lot of cash, and many of those who kicked it in have already benefited and some will, no doubt, double down before the ban goes into effect in case Mrs. Clinton wins.
In preparation for her hoped-for coronation, the boys and girls of Clinton, Inc., with guidance from Chelsea Clinton and father Bill, are developing Plan B. The foundation, which is now officially the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, will drop the Clintons from its name and the father and daughter will become less visible than in the past. Bill says he will even give up his role as fundraiser-in-chief. It will essentially be from the election on “the Foundation formally known as the Clinton Foundation,” but will remain in the hands of family retainers, and everyone from Saudi Arabia to Moscow will know where to find it. As with all things Clinton, parsing what is said often reveals that while change is promised, business as usual may be possible.
From the day the news broke that Mrs. Clinton did business as secretary of State on a private email server and the lady refused to allow access to tens of thousands of emails, most of the public and media attention has focused on whether she had sent classified information using the private server, but many have suspected that her bullheaded refusal to give up much of what she had promised to make public had more to do with her use of her position to fund Clinton, Inc. by doing favors for foundation donors.
Now that the foundation’s emails may have been hacked and much of what she has tried so hard to avoid making public could come out, she and Bill are preparing for the worst and assuring us all that should we elect her president, she’ll go straight.
• David A. Keene is opinion editor at The Washington Times.
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