After endless delays and excuses, the Clinton Foundation released its 2014 tax return as well as amended returns for the previous four years and an audit of its finances. That fulfilled a pledge made last April by Clinton Foundation acting CEO, Maura Pally, who acknowledged that the foundation had previously made a few unfortunate accounting “mistakes.”
Journalists are going to be scouring through this new financial information and pumping out “balanced” stories that evade what is already evident, namely that the Clintons have used their foundation for crass profiteering and influence peddling.
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.
It is beyond dispute that former President Clinton has been directly involved in helping foundation donors and his personal cronies get rich. Even worse, it is beyond dispute that these very same donors and the Clintons’ political allies have won the focused attention of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State. Democrats and Clinton apologists will write these accusations off as conspiracy mongering and right-wing propaganda, but it’s an open secret to anyone remotely familiar with accounting and regulatory requirements for charities that the financial records are deliberately misleading. And not coincidentally, those records were long filed by a Little Rock–based accounting firm called BKD, a regional auditor with little international experience.
It’s odd that a small Arkansas-headquartered firm would handle the books for a giant entity like the Clinton Foundation, and even odder given that BKD has been implicated in a variety of misconduct. For example, last year the Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned BKD for “violating auditor independence rules when they prepared the financial statements of brokerage firms that were their audit clients.”
It brings to mind Bernie Madoff, who also used a small accounting shop when he was running his notorious Ponzi scheme. And it’s worth emphasizing here that smaller firms are typically far less likely to challenge major clients, and the Clinton Foundation was one of BKD’s major sources of revenue.
The new audit that was released yesterday was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a major accounting firm. I’ve been told by multiple sources with knowledge of the review that PwC was under tremendous outside pressure to turn in a truthful audit as opposed to the shoddy work performed by BKD. “The audit is the key, it’s far more important than the amended tax returns,” Charles Ortel, an independent financial expert, told me. “PwC is a top firm and they will not be able to claim they didn’t know that the past audits were fraudulent because they have been informed of problems. If they certify that the Clinton Foundation is clean, when it is apparent it is not, PwC is done. It may go the way of Arthur Andersen.” Ortel, a former managing director of Dillon, Read & Co., who helped expose massive financial fraud by GE, GM, and AIG before the 2008 global financial meltdown, was referring to the accounting firm that missed massive fraud by Enron and subsequently collapsed.
A Canadian charity called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership—which is run by one of Bill Clinton’s close friends, Frank Giustra—has been moving significant sums of money into the Clinton Foundation’s flagship in New York. There’s no way for the public to know precisely how much total money the CGEP has taken in over the years—or how much it has forwarded on to the Clinton Foundation—because, unlike in the United States, under Canadian non-profit law charities don’t need to report donors to tax authorities. Earlier this year, after being severely criticized by the Canadian press, the CGEP released the names of twenty-four of its donors, but more than 1,000 are still unknown. (CGEP wrote in an email that “going forward [it] will publicly disclose all future donors.”)
The Clinton Foundation’s list of donors on its website puts the CGEP in the top category of $25 million-plus, however a financial-industry source who has seen the relevant records estimated that the figure is at least $33 million. According to Ortel that number is certainly understated. “There are no effective controls over the Clinton Foundation or the Giustra entity,” he told me. “No independent party has had access to the bank account records, including wire transfer records. There are no independent directors ensuring compliance with the law. Only a fool would have any confidence in their numbers; it’s like Al Capone forming a foundation.”
One money-laundering expert and former intelligence officer based in the Middle East who had access to the foundation’s confidential banking information told me that members of royal families in Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, have donated money to the CGEP that has then been sluiced through to the Clinton Foundation. He added that the CGEP has also received money from corrupt officials in South Africa during the regime of Jacob Zuma and from senior officials in Equatorial Guinea, one of the most brutal and crooked dictatorships in the world. “Equatorial Guinea doesn’t give to the Clinton Foundation in New York because it’s too embarrassing,” he said. “They give the money anonymously in Canada and that buys them political protection in the United States. The Clinton Foundation is a professionally structured money-laundering operation.”
In an email, a CGEP spokesperson wrote that the organization “has never received funding from any members of any royal family from any countries around the world.” Similarly, on its website the CGEP claims that it doesn’t take money from foreign governments. However, my source in the Middle East said, “in countries like Equatorial Guinea and Kuwait, there is no difference between government money and private money. You can call it private money but it’s stolen from the government and when these individuals donate they gain protection for their governments.”
“I can’t say for certain that it’s illegal because I don’t have access to all the financial information but at best they are skating along the edge,” the source added. “They get away with it because the major media outlets are too lazy to look into it but the [Congressional] Benghazi Committee has access to the key information, and so do government agencies like the IRS, the SEC and the FEC. If you put together the information that all of these agencies have it’s obvious that the foundation is a fraud.”
The Clinton Foundation declined to comment for this story.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have in tandem made enormous sums of money since Bill left the White House. According to the Washington Post, they netted at least $136.5 million between 2001 and 2012. “All the Benghazi committee has to do is match up Hillary’s travel as secretary of state with Bill’s speaking arrangements,” my source in the Middle East said. “Bill heads out to foreign countries and he gets paid huge amounts of money for a thirty-minute speech and then she heads out for an official visit as a favor. She racked up more miles than any secretary of state [other than Condoleezza Rice] and that’s one of the reasons why. How can they get away with that? The committee is either corrupt or incompetent, or both.”
There are other signs that the Clintons and their foundation may have violated federal, state, and international law. Under Treasury Department money-laundering rules, the Clinton Foundation is required to disclose every financial account it holds abroad. It has failed to disclose an account linked to the CGEP on its past eight tax returns.
I have been told by a source with firsthand knowledge that the Treasury Department, the IRS, the FBI, and Canadian tax authorities were informed of this and other transgressions many months ago but thus far have done nothing.
So why hasn’t the Obama administration’s Justice Department looked into the foundation? One can only speculate, but you have to wonder if it isn’t because it would be too embarrassing to Obama’s former secretary of state and to the president himself. For example, Obama donated part of the money he received for winning the Nobel Peace Prize to the Clinton Foundation’s scandal-plagued earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. And the domestic partner of Cheryl Mills—Hillary’s former chief of staff who shared now-classified information with the Clinton Foundation and currently sits on its board of directors—was involved in Haiti relief?
Surely, any competent government investigators with subpoena power should be able to quickly figure this all out.
Since it was founded by Bill Clinton in 2001, the Clinton Foundation has been very opaque in its accounting practices. It was only in 2008, in the face of mounting public criticism, that it started disclosing its donors.
Its biggest donors include some truly wonderful people and countries. There are, to name a few, the torture-happy, terror-exporting government of Saudi Arabia; a foundation controlled by Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch accused of bribery and corruption; and Frank Giustra, a penny-stock artist who became filthy rich with the generous assistance of Bill Clinton. In 2008, a former Kazakh official told reporters that Giustra, who established the CGEP with Clinton, donated millions to the foundation after Clinton helped him purchase uranium deposits in Kazakhstan. (At the time, Giustra denied this claim, pointing out that he had been engaged in mining deals in Kazakhstan since the 1990s.)
The Clinton Foundation has received more than $1 billion over the years to purchase HIV/AIDS drugs for poor people in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. However, a unit set up to receive the money—the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, Inc., which was run by Ira Magaziner, a Clinton administration veteran with close ties to Hillary—clearly spent far, far less than it took in. In fact, the unit’s accounting practices were so shoddy that its license was revoked by the state of Massachusetts, where it was headquartered.
One foundation deal, which involved Magaziner, is the mysterious “Procurement Consortium” that was announced in 2006. The consortium works with more than seventy world governments to coordinate their health care purchases from international vendors, supposedly at attractive prices. Data gleaned from these discussions can be enormously valuable, particularly to startup firms in the health-care industry. Magaziner is heavily involved in the health-care industry and previously, as reported by the New York Times, he was the “chief architect of the Clinton Administration’s ill-fated health plan.”
A number of other Clinton cronies have been on the Clinton Foundation’s payroll. Take two: Doug Band, a Clinton administration veteran who subsequently became a founding partner of a bipartisan clusterfuck called Teneo Holdings, and Huma Abedin, an employee of the Foundation and of Teneo during 2013. (Disclosure: Abedin is married to former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. Sydney Elaine Leathers, one of the women who exposed Weiner’s sexting scandal, is a personal friend of mine.)
There’s also Sidney Blumenthal, another Clinton administration veteran and long-time Clinton family hatchet man. (Perhaps I’m biased but my view is that allowing Blumenthal to operate in the political environment is like letting Typhoid Mary loose in an orphanage.) Blumenthal was paid as a consultant at least $120,000 annually by the Clinton Foundation and has also been lavishly subsidized by Media Matters and American Bridge, two groups that are pushing Hillary’s 2016 campaign.
Now let’s return to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, the Clinton Foundation’s dirty slush fund. On its website, the CGEP says it was established so that “Mr. Giustra and other Canadian residents could receive a charitable tax credit in support of Mr. Giustra’s vision of working toward innovative solutions to poverty alleviation on a global scale.” As examples, it notes that in Colombia the good people at CGEP have provided “4.3 million meals to 4,000 underserved children” and “skills training and various construction certifications to 5,424 marginalized individuals.” It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes, but if you stop to think about it, providing “various construction certifications” and food to a few thousand “underserved” kids in a country like Colombia probably doesn’t cost a lot of money.
The CGEP has released the names of only a fraction of its donors and partners. But consider a few members of its rogues’ gallery:
• Ian Telfer, a friend of Giustra’s who formerly chaired a company called Uranium One. While Hillary was the secretary of state, the State Department cleared the sale, for good reasons or bad, of Uranium One to a state-run company in Russia.
• Sergey Kurzin, who worked with Giustra on a mining deal in Kazakhstan.
• Eric Nonacs, of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, who at one point was simultaneously employed by Endeavor Financial, the company Giustra set up to run his Kazakh deal, and the Clinton Foundation. (Nonacs was the foundation’s highest paid employee in 2005.)
• Lukas Lundin, a mining magnate who runs his family-founded Lundin Group from Vancouver. Giustra and Lundin are good pals and they do business the same way, namely, as the old saying goes, by investing when there is still blood on the ground. In the case of Gisutra and Lundin, they typically jet off to poor countries where corruption thrives, and buy assets up for suspiciously cheap prices. Then, after failing to deliver on public promises to invest a lot of their money and provide social projects for the poor, they make a killing by flipping the assets or they monetize their gains by setting up shell companies that go public on the stock market in Vancouver, which is notoriously lax on regulation.
So why haven’t the Clintons gotten caught? My intelligence source summed up the situation perfectly in explaining why the Benghazi Committee has not thus far bagged them. “The Democrats are stupid but they have ruthless leadership. The Republicans are even dumber. Donald Trump is an idiot but he’s right about one thing: We are led by stupid people. These are some of the dumbest motherfuckers I have ever seen.”
Members of Wealthy Saudi Family Emerge as Clinton Foundation, Dem Donors
A wealthy family closely aligned with Saudi Arabia’s ruling family has emerged as a key donor to both the Clinton Foundation and prominent Democrats, despite the clan’s involvement in a domestic violence case that it has sought to sweep under the rug, according to police reports and funding documents viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
Nasser al-Rashid, one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest figures and an adviser to the country’s royal family, has donated somewhere between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, putting him in an elite category of prominent donors.
Al-Rashid’s children—including one who pled guilty to assaulting his estranged wife—have poured almost $600,000 into Democratic coffers during the past several years, raising questions about influence peddling by prominent foreign families.
The controversy has already rippled through Florida’s contentious race for a Democratic Senate seat and threatens to further entangle presidential contender Hillary Clinton, who has already faced questions about her close ties to foreign governments.
“This raises a very simple question in my mind—why is this family of one of Saudi Arabia’s richest billionaires and a key adviser to the royal family pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into our political system to elect and influence these Democrats?” asked Ian Prior, a longtime Republican political operative and current spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, which advocates the election of Republican candidates.
Nasser Ibrahim al-Rashid, the family’s patriarch, is the founder and chairman of the Riyadh-based Rashid Engineering, making him one of the country’s top five wealthiest men.
His high-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation put him in league with other prominent donors such as financial giant Barclays Capital and beer magnate Anheuser-Busch.
Donations by foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, to the Clinton Foundation have sparked multiple reports questioning Hillary Clinton’s close relationship with these nations.
“There are a wide range of donors to this foundation from a number of Gulf countries, where women are treated like second class citizens,” a former Bush administration official said. “Individuals from these countries, which are often weak on terrorism finance enforcement, also have outsized influence over this powerful foundation, with real international implications.”
Al-Rashid’s three sons have followed in their father’s political footsteps, contributing large sums to top Democrats, including Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.), whose Senate race could help decide which party controls the Senate in 2017.
Murphy has already returned a portion of al-Rashid’s donations due to his involvement in a domestic assault incident.
Ibrahim al-Rashid allegedly forced his way into his estranged wife’s Pennsylvania home, where al-Rashid allegedly “grabbed her by the wrist, struck her about the head and face with a closed fist then threw her to the ground,” according to a copy of the police report viewed by the Free Beacon.
Following the 2014 incident, al-Rashid allegedly sent his wife a text message stating, “I am not sorry this time I hope you die in hell,” according to the police report.
Murphy, a longtime friend of al-Rashid, was recently forced to donate around $16,000 in campaign funds to domestic violence groups after the assault charge became a public liability for the campaign. Murphy also returned all of the donations made by al-Rashid during the last three political cycles.
However, that did not account for all of the money al-Rashid donated in 2012 to a pro-Murphy Super PAC, prompting calls for Murphy to return that money as well.
Al-Rashid has donated at least $490,000 mainly to Democratic campaigns, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Democratic Super PACs, according to funding data, raising further questions about whether these candidates and organizations also will return the controversial cash.
When reached at his home for comment about these donations, al-Rashid declined to answer questions, requesting that the reporter who called respect his privacy. Al-Rashid did admit that he was aware of reports detailing the controversy over his donations to Murphy.
This includes contributions to the campaigns of Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), as well as Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), among others, according to Federal Election Commission data.
A third son of Nasser, Mohammed al-Rashid, appears to have donated around $40,000 mainly to Democrats, according to FEC data. This includes donations to the DCCC, Murphy, Ellison, Booker, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), among others, according to the FEC.
One veteran political operative who has been tracking the 2016 election cycle told the Free Beacon that these donations raise questions about foreign influence in U.S. politics.
“Saudi Arabia is anti-Israel, anti-woman, and anti-human rights, yet Hillary Clinton’s Foundation takes millions from the Saudi government and well-connected billionaires like this al-Rashid,” the source said. “Now we have down ballot Democrats looking the other way and taking money from al-Rashid’s sons, one of whom committed domestic violence. This from the party that uses divisive ‘war on women’ rhetoric at every turn.”
Attempts to reach Salman and Mohammad al-Rashid for comment were unsuccessful.
Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department
Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East.
Israeli officials were agitated, reportedly complaining to the Obama administration that this substantial enhancement to Saudi air power risked disrupting the region’s fragile balance of power. The deal appeared to collide with the State Department’s documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family.
But now, in late 2011, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was formally clearing the sale, asserting that it was in the national interest. At press conferences in Washington to announce the department’s approval, an assistant secretary of state, Andrew Shapiro, declared that the deal had been “a top priority” for Clinton personally. Shapiro, a longtime aide to Clinton since her Senate days, added that the “U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army have excellent relationships in Saudi Arabia.”
These were not the only relationships bridging leaders of the two nations. In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise she has overseen with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing — the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 — contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.
The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that placed weapons in the hands of governments that had also donated money to the Clinton family philanthropic empire, an International Business Times investigation has found.
Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.
American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.
The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also accused some of these countries of failing to marshal a serious and sustained campaign to confront terrorism. In a December 2009 State Department cable published by Wikileaks, Clinton complained of “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” She declared that “Qatar’s overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.” She said the Kuwaiti government was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks.” She noted that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.” All of these countries donated to the Clinton Foundation and received increased weapons export authorizations from the Clinton-run State Department.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Clinton Foundation did not respond to questions from the IBTimes.
In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
Winning Friends, Influencing Clintons
Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy. But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.
Just before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation signed an agreement generally obligating it to disclose to the State Department increases in contributions from its existing foreign government donors and any new foreign government donors. Those increases were to be reviewed by an official at the State Department and “as appropriate” the White House counsel’s office. According to available disclosures, officials at the State Department and White House raised no issues about potential conflicts related to arms sales.
During Hillary Clinton’s 2009 Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., urged the Clinton Foundation to “forswear” accepting contributions from governments abroad. “Foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state,” he said. The Clintons did not take Lugar’s advice. In light of the weapons deals flowing to Clinton Foundation donors, advocates for limits on the influence of money on government action now argue that Lugar was prescient in his concerns.
“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group that seeks to tighten campaign finance disclosure rules. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”
Hillary Clinton’s willingness to allow those with business before the State Department to finance her foundation heightens concerns about how she would manage such relationships as president, said Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.
“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig told IBTimes. “Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”
National security experts assert that the overlap between the list of Clinton Foundation donors and those with business before the the State Department presents a troubling conflict of interest.
While governments and defense contractors may not have made donations to the Clinton Foundation exclusively to influence arms deals, they were clearly “looking to build up deposits in the ‘favor bank’ and to be well thought of,” said Gregory Suchan, a 34-year State Department veteran who helped lead the agency’s oversight of arms transfers under the Bush administration.
As Hillary Clinton presses a campaign for the presidency, she has confronted sustained scrutiny into her family’s personal and philanthropic dealings, along with questions about whether their private business interests have colored her exercise of public authority. As IBTimes previously reported, Clinton switched from opposing an American free trade agreement with Colombia to supporting it after a Canadian energy and mining magnate with interests in that South American country contributed to the Clinton Foundation. IBTimes’ review of the Clintons’ annual financial disclosures also revealed that 13 companies lobbying the State Department paid Bill Clinton $2.5 million in speaking fees while Hillary Clinton headed the agency.
Questions about the nexus of arms sales and Clinton Foundation donors stem from the State Department’s role in reviewing the export of American-made weapons. The agency is charged with both licensing direct commercial sales by U.S. defense contractors to foreign governments and also approving Pentagon-brokered sales to those governments. Those powers are enshrined in a federal law that specifically designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In that role, Hillary Clinton was empowered to approve or reject deals for a broad range of reasons, from national security considerations to human rights concerns.
The State Department does not disclose which individual companies are involved in direct commercial sales, but its disclosure documents reveal that countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation saw a combined $75 billion increase in authorized commercial military sales under the three full fiscal years Clinton served, as compared to the first three full fiscal years of Bush’s second term.
The Clinton Foundation has not released an exact timetable of its donations, making it impossible to know whether money from foreign governments and defense contractors came into the organization before or after Hillary Clinton approved weapons deals that involved their interests. But news reports document that at least seven foreign governments that received State Department clearance for American arms did donate to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary: Algeria, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Thailand, Norway and Australia.
Sales Flowed Despite Human Rights Concerns
Under a presidential policy directive signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the State Department is supposed to specifically take human rights records into account when deciding whether to approve licenses enabling foreign governments to purchase military equipment and services from American companies. Despite this, Hillary Clinton’s State Department increased approvals of such sales to nations that her agency sharply criticized for systematic human rights abuses.
In its 2010 Human Rights Report, Clinton’s State Department inveighed against Algeria’s government for imposing “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association” tolerating “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.” The report said the Algerian government “used security grounds to constrain freedom of expression and movement.”
That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country. The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as “toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment” after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.
During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.
The monarchy in Qatar had similarly been chastised by the State Department for a raft of human rights abuses. But that country donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was running the State Department. During the three full budgetary years of her tenure, Qatar saw a 14-fold increase in State Department authorizations for direct commercial sales of military equipment and services, as compared to the same time period in Bush’s second term. The department also approved the Pentagon’s separate $750 million sale of multi-mission helicopters to Qatar. That deal would additionally employ as contractors three companies that have all supported the Clinton Foundation over the years: United Technologies, Lockheed Martin and General Electric.
Clinton foundation donor countries that the State Department criticized for human rights violations and that received weapons export authorizations did not respond to IBTimes’ questions.
That group of arms manufacturers — along with Clinton Foundation donors Boeing, Honeywell, Hawker Beechcraft and their affiliates — were together listed as contractors in 114 such deals while Clinton was secretary of state. NBC put Chelsea Clinton on its payroll as a network correspondent in November 2011, when it was still 49 percent owned by General Electric. A spokesperson for General Electric did not respond to questions from IBTimes.
The other companies all asserted that their donations had nothing to do with the arms export deals.
“Our contributions have aligned with our longstanding philanthropic commitments,” said Honeywell spokesperson Rob Ferris.
“Even The Appearance Of A Conflict”
During her Senate confirmation proceedings in 2009, Hillary Clinton declared that she and her husband were “committed to ensuring that his work does not present a conflict of interest with the duties of Secretary of State.” She pledged “to protect against even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his work and the duties of the Secretary of State” and said that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”
Even so, Bill Clinton took in speaking fees reaching $625,000 at events sponsored by entities that were dealing with Hillary Clinton’s State Department on weapons issues.
In 2011, for example, the former president was paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation to be the guest of honor and keynote speaker at its annual awards gala, which was held at the home of the Kuwaiti ambassador. Ben Affleck spoke at the event, which featured a musical performance by Grammy-award winner Michael Bolton. The gala was emceed by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. Boeing was listed as a sponsor of the event, as were the embassies of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — the latter two of which had donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
The speaking fee from the Kuwait America Foundation to Bill Clinton was paid in the same time frame as a series of deals Hillary Clinton’s State Department was approving between the Kuwaiti government and Boeing. Months before the gala, the Department of Defense announced that Boeing would be the prime contractor on a $693 million deal, cleared by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, to provide the Kuwaiti government with military transport aircraft. A year later, a group sponsored in part by Boeing would pay Bill Clinton another $250,000 speaking fee.
“Boeing has sponsored this major travel event, the Global Business Travel Association, for several years, regardless of its invited speakers,” Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesperson, told IBTimes. Johndroe said Boeing’s support for the Clinton Foundation was “a transparent act of compassion and an investment aimed at aiding the long-term interests and hopes of the Haitian people” following a devastating earthquake.
Boeing was one of three companies that helped deliver money personally to Bill Clinton while benefiting from weapons authorizations issued by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The others were Lockheed and the financial giant Goldman Sachs.
Lockheed is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, which paid Bill Clinton $250,000 to speak at an event in 2010. Three days before the speech, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved two weapons export deals in which Lockheed was listed as the prime contractor. Over the course of 2010, Lockheed was a contractor on 17 Pentagon-brokered deals that won approval from the State Department. Lockheed told IBTimes that its support for the Clinton Foundation started in 2010, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
“Lockheed Martin has periodically supported one individual membership in the Clinton Global Initiative since 2010,” said company spokesperson Katherine Trinidad. “Membership benefits included attendance at CGI annual meetings, where we participated in working groups focused on STEM, workforce development and advanced manufacturing.”
In April 2011, Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton $200,000 to speak to “approximately 250 high level clients and investors” in New York, according to State Department records obtained by Judicial Watch. Two months later, the State Department approved a $675 million foreign military sale involving Hawker Beechcraft — a company that was then part-owned by Goldman Sachs. As part of the deal, Hawker Beechcraft would provide support to the government of Iraq to maintain a fleet of aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Goldman Sachs has also contributed at least $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to donation records.
“There is absolutely no connection among all the points that you have raised regarding our firm,” said Andrew Williams, a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs.
Federal records show that ethics staffers at the State Department approved the payments to Bill Clinton from Goldman Sachs, and the Lockheed- and Boeing-sponsored groups without objection, even though the firms had major stakes in the agency’s weapons export decisions.
Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international affairs, told IBTimes that the intertwining financial relationships between the Clintons, defense contractors and foreign governments seeking weapons approvals is “a vivid example of a very big problem — the degree to which conflicts of interest have become endemic.”
“It has troubled me all along that the Clinton Foundation was not being more scrupulous about who it would take money from and who it wouldn’t,” he said. “American foreign policy is better served if people responsible for it are not even remotely suspected of having these conflicts of interest. When George Marshall was secretary of state, nobody was worried about whether or not he would be distracted by donations to a foundation or to himself. This wasn’t an issue. And that was probably better.”