By: Jason Cox
The Clintons are a family seemingly plagued by perpetual scandal; be it the Whitewater real estate deals, Hillary’s handling of Benghazi, or Bill’s sordid past with women, the list goes on and on. However, since the 2012 elections, it seems their stock could never be higher. Most Americans would prefer former President Bill Clinton still be in office, and Hillary is now the largely unopposed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. But we’re all creatures of habit, and the Clintons have again brought themselves into the gaze of public scrutiny—this time over alleged improper conduct in the operation of their charitable foundation.
The William J. Clinton Foundation was established in 2001 to act as the charitable outlet of former President Bill Clinton. Its name has changed over the years, adding both Hillary and their daughter Chelsea’s name on board, until finally settling on “The Clinton Foundation” this year. The foundation includes among its goals a wide variety of causes, including eradication of disease, global expansion of women’s rights, and economic development. It has made its face known prominently in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as well as in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
When Hillary Clinton was appointed Secretary of State in 2009, she publicly supported President Obama’s pledge for greater transparency in government. For her, this included promising to disclose the identity of any donor to her organization while she ran the State Department. Since that time she has been under the public eye for breaking administration policy by refusing to use her government email address for official business, hosting a private email server for these breaches at her home (that has since been wiped clean,) and now it has been recently brought to light that the Clinton Health Access Initiative (the largest component of the Clinton Foundation) has not been reporting the identity of its donors since 2010.
This apparent disregard for transparency would be bad enough on its own, but it has now snowballed into a much more troubling story. The New York Times reported that the Clinton Foundation received donations from businesses linked to the Russian government shortly before the U.S. State Department approved a deal allowing the Russians to purchase ownership in a uranium mining company. These donations went unreported, and Clinton was reportedly later paid $500,000 to speak at a meeting of business interests linked to this sale.
This unsurprisingly led to an array of accusations, chief among them that the former Secretary of State was bribed into giving up control of a strategic resource to an increasingly defiant Russian government. Federal law defines bribery of a government official as a promise to provide something of value in exchange for an official act or service by that public servant. Of course, it can’t be assumed that these extravagant payments and donations were a payoff for an abuse of authority by Secretary Clinton, and her campaign has strongly denied the accusations. That the former Secretary of State broke transparency rules set by the Obama administration and her own promise to disclose her Foundation’s donors leads to serious questions about her judgment and integrity.
Popular culture today is saturated with depictions of corrupt figures in government with shady backers pulling the strings. The threat of corruption at the highest levels of government cannot be taken lightly. National security decisions should not be placed in the hands of figures that will be swayed by the promise of lucrative rewards. Further still, the digital age has ensured the negative effects of abuse have never been larger, proven by the leaks of Edward Snowden. As Hillary Clinton embarks on her second run for the presidency, the American public is going to have to decide whether reality should reflect the entertainment sphere, and whether or not our highest officials are to be bought and sold.