The Clintons' Little Tin Box

This week seems to spell the beginning of the end for Hillary’s campaign and two show tunes keep popping into my head unbidden: “Little Tin Box” from the musical Fiorello and “How Long Has this Been Going on?”

Every five minutes it seems the scandal deepens as it is beyond question that the Clinton family (including new to the game Chelsea) have been using their tax-exempt charity the Clinton Foundation to enrich themselves, expand their power, and sell out U.S. interests. The only questions remaining are when will she drop out of the race and can we expect a thorough investigation of the Foundation with appropriate consequence ,

In the song “A Little Tin Box”, the corrupt politicians sing where they kept the bribes paid to them:

Into a little tin box,

A little tin box

That a little tin key unlocks.

There is nothing unorthodox

About a little tin box.

In a little tin box,

A little tin box

There's a cushion for life's rude shocks.

There is faith, hope and charity,

Hard-won prosperity,

In a little tin box.

And here’s what we learned went into the Clinton Foundation’s “Little Tin Box”

1.) Millions from a Russian named Pinchuk, who trades with Iran:

Victor Pinchuk is a businessman active in Ukraine who owns the EastOne Group investing company and the Interpipe Group, Ukraine's biggest pipe manufacturer. He is the second richest man in Ukraine and is heavily involved in politics as a former member of parliament who is also married to the daughter of a former Ukrainian president. He is also the largest individual donor to the Clinton Foundation.

And not just the Foundation, but also the spinoff Clinton Global Initiative received millions from Pinchuk while Hillary was Secretary of State. He should have but was never sanctioned for these trades.

2.) Millions from Russians who sought and obtained the rights to 20% of U.S. uranium resources

Uranium likely to find its way to Iran. Hillary approved the sale while secretary of state:

Hillary Clinton’s State Department was part of a panel that approved the sale of one of America’s largest uranium mines at the same time a foundation controlled by the seller’s chairman was making donations to a Clinton family charity, records reviewed by the Wall Street Journal show.

The $610 million sale of 51% of Uranium One to a unit of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear agency, was approved in 2010 by a U.S. federal committee that assesses the security implications of foreign investments. The State Department, which Mrs. Clinton then ran, is one of its members.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project of the Clinton Foundation, received $2.35 million from the Fernwood Foundation, a family charity run by Ian Telfer, chairman of Uranium One before its sale, according to Canada Revenue Agency records. 

These contributions were not publicly disclosed.

3.) Millions were paid  to Bill Clinton for speeches by big Foundation donors  while Hillary served as secretary of state, aspects of which were not made clear by the foundation's public filings. These payments raise numerous conflict of interest issues as do the millions paid directly to the Foundation by foreigners and foreign governments.

Bill Clinton was paid more than $100 million for speeches between 2001 and 2013, according to federal financial disclosure forms filed by Hillary Clinton during her years as a senator and as secretary of state.[snip] The Post analysis shows that, among the approximately 420 organizations that paid Bill Clinton to speak during those years, 67 were also foundation donors that each gave the charity at least $10,000.

Many of those funders were major financial institutions that are viewed suspiciously by liberals whom Clinton has been courting as she seeks to secure the Democratic nomination — and avoid a vigorous primary challenge from the populist left.

Four major financial firms — Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup — collectively have given between $2.75 million and $11.5 million to the charity, which is now called the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Between 2001 and 2013, their combined speech payments to Bill Clinton came to more than $3 million.

The Post analysis also revealed aspects of Bill Clinton’s paid speaking career during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department that were not clear from her public filings.”

And from Reuters:

For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years.

Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars toward the foundation's work on climate change and economic development through this three-year period. Those governments were identified on the foundation's annually updated donor list, along with broad indications of how much each had cumulatively given since they began donating.

4.) Under scrutiny the Foundation will refile “at least” 5 years of past tax returns

By its own reports, which the Foundation concedes substantially understate the contributions, it received half a billion dollars in donations -- surely that would have covered the salary of a decent accountant for the past 5 years. The only reasonable conclusion was the Foundation was trying to obscure from scrutiny what was going on.

5.) The Clintons even profited from the disaster in Haiti, collecting millions for earthquake relief and then enriching themselves by insuring that the big rebuilding contracts went to their supporters or donors:

Controversy surrounding the Clintons only deepened with the recent revelation, contained in an upcoming book by Peter Schweizer, that Tony Rodham — Hillary Clinton’s younger brother — serves on the advisory board of a U.S.-based company that in 2012 won one of Haiti’s first two gold-mining permits in 50 years. After objection from the Haitian Senate, the permits have been placed on hold.

“Neither Bill Clinton nor the brother of Hillary Clinton are individuals who share the interests of the Haitian people,” said Samuel Nesner, an anti-mining activist who thinks mining poses great environmental risks and will mainly benefit foreign investors. “They are part of the elite class who are operating to exploit the Haitian people.”

6.) The Clintons seem to have directly dipped into the box to sustain their lavish lifestyle, not for charitable purposes. For example reports indicated Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea together used $8 million in 2013 for their travel expenses:

Overall, the administrative expenses are mindboggling, as The Federalist reports:  

Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.

Even Common Cause, an outfit which was supposedly created to be a watchdog for clean government but is usually an attack dog for Democrats, is calling a foul

The financial issues plaguing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign have become too much even for liberal groups, and now Common Cause is calling for an independent audit of donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Amid suggestions that foreign governments donated to the foundation in hopes of getting special treatment from President Obama’s State Department when Clinton was his top diplomat, the group on Friday said a “thorough review” is needed.

7.) They used the Foundation, which taxpayers fund to the tune of $16 million through Bill’s “office expense” allowance”, to employ and further enrich their operatives: 

[S]ources say that several Bill Clinton staffers who have been paid through the GSA have also been paid through the foundation or his personal office. They include Doug Band, the former White House aide who previously helped run the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative, and senior foundation official Laura Graham, whose foundation salary increased from $74,000 in 2005 to more than $180,000 in 2013, according to tax filings. Another Clinton insider believed to have been on the GSA payroll is Bill Clinton’s chief of staff Tina Flournoy, a former union official who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and whose arrival on her husband’s staff in 2012 was seen by some insiders “as Hillary’s planting a sentinel,” according to a report in New York magazine.

8.) There was significant overlap between those who contributed to Hillary and those who contributed to the Foundation. 

A Washington Post review of Clinton Foundation data through 2014, found “substantial overlap between the Clinton political machinery and the [F]oundation.” For example, almost half of the major donors who were supporting Ready for Hillary, an organization promoting Mrs. Clinton's anticipated 2016 presidential run, and nearly half of the bundlers from Hillary's 2008 campaign, had given $10,000 or more to the Clinton Foundation, either personally or through foundations or businesses which they themselves headed. As of early 2015, for instance, Clinton friend and fundraiser Susie Tompkins Buell had given the Clinton Foundation some $10 million from her eponymous charitable fund. Another leading Clinton supporter, billionaire Haim Saban, had given an estimated $25 million to the Foundation.

Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible and didn’t count against campaign contribution limits. Was this a deliberate end run around campaign finance and tax laws?

9.) Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s chief of staff at the Department of State,simultaneously was employed by the Foundation in clear conflict of interest:

Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department was listed as a director at the Clinton Foundation in its corporate records for more than three years after joining the administration, highlighting concerns that Clinton’s aides were too close to the foundation during her tenure.

The “William J. Clinton Foundation Corporation” named Cheryl Mills as one its three directors when it applied for nonprofit corporate status in Florida in June 2009  -- five months after Mills began serving as Clinton’s chief of staff and counsel at the State Department.


A spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation did not respond to request for comment on when Mills officially left the organization. Mills said in her own financial disclosures that she stepped down in March of 2009, a little more than a month after she became chief of staff. During that time, Mills was included in correspondence about the State Department’s vetting process for Bill Clinton’s consultancy gigs.

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics counsel under President George W. Bush, said that there could be legal implications if Mills’ role at the Clinton Foundation overlapped with her time at the State Department. Officials are encouraged to step down from any nonprofit boards before joining the government due to the conflict of interest statute.

“It would be highly problematic if she was a director of the foundation and she was participating in State Department decisions that could have a financial benefit to the foundation,” Painter said. “If you did do something that had a direct and predictable financial benefit for the foundation, you get into criminal statutes.”

Painter said officials who keep their roles with a nonprofit are required to recuse themselves from any decisions that could benefit the group.

Mills served as Clinton’s point person on Haiti, helping to direct U.S. funding to economic recovery projects. Bill Clinton was appointed UN envoy to Haiti in 2009, and the Clinton Foundation promoted numerous projects in the country, including ones that involved major foundation donors.

Mills, who left the State Department in 2013, is listed as a current member of the Clinton Foundation board on its website. 

The Foundation contends that she resigned before going to State, but her own records say she remained on the Board for over a month after assuming the position at State.

Did the Foundation expend funds to others connected to Hillary in ways not apparent from the late, sloppily prepared filings? We still have no idea who funded Sidney Blumenthal’s private intelligence service Hillary utilized at State, for example.

10.) Fraud and Corrupt Practices Characterize the Foundation’s and the Clintons’ Operations

Financial reporter Charles Ortel has examined the Foundation reports contends there is fraud involved:    

1.) What do Clinton Foundation disclosures tell informed readers about the stewardship of billions of dollars in “charitable contributions” sent to Little Rock, to New York City, to Boston, to London, and to Stockholm from numerous donors with modest means, from wealthy and powerful donors, and from a host of governments and government-connected benefactors?

2 .) Did management exercise vigilance to ensure that the Clinton Foundation actually carried out its original and its amended tax-exempt purposes?

3.) Did directors take reasonable care, as fiduciaries, under applicable state, federal, and foreign laws to operate this charity serving, at all times, a public interest?

4)  Are all business arrangements with material “related” parties fully and adequately disclosed in annual, publicly available filings that comparable charities regularly complete on time?

Or, do the Clintons, and others who operate the Clinton Foundation, function as Robin Hood in reverse? Do they dupe small, modest income donors to enrich themselves and cronies?

Headline Conclusions of the First Foundation Report

The truth is that it is difficult to perform penetrating analysis of publicly available financial information pertaining to the Clinton Foundation because, so far, it is not technically complete in numerous material respects.

The numbers that the Clinton Foundation supplies to the public in its legally mandated filings do not add up, are frequently incorrect, and appear to be materially misleading. In numerous cases, the Clinton Foundation appears to have followed inconsistent policies adding in appropriate portions of the various activities it pursued around the world to create “consolidated” financial statements.

As the attached report notes, in several instances portions were added only for some of the years in which the entities remained in operation, artificially enhancing purported financial results. In other cases, important elements of activity were improperly characterized and combined.

Meanwhile the Foundation solicits donations even though its informational filings are not in compliance with applicable law. Regulators at Federal, State, Local, and international levels are not doing what they should do to protect the public.

Much has been made of the media’s slow acknowledgement of the Foundation’s corrupt practices. True, in August of 2013, the New York Times did raise some questions about what was going on:

But overall, it and the major media made little of what was obvious to anyone who was paying attention: the Foundation was operating outside the law in numerous respects and the Clintons were profiting mightily from it. Aside from ignoring their filing obligations, noted by Ortel, other conflicts with the law are obvious -- among them:

Their lavish travel and payoffs to friends and operatives employed by the Foundation should have raised eyebrows as being in conflict with the inurement prohibitions of the tax exemption under which the Foundation was operating: 

A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator's family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.

Then there’s the question of whether the Foundation’s activities violated the Federal Corrupt Practices Act signed into law by, you guessed it, Bill Clinton

I seem to recall that her evasive, ever-changing testimony and document expropriation and destruction almost resulted in an indictment against her in the Whitewater investigation but the prosecution declined to seek her indictment then, undoubtedly because it would have been a futile exercise to try the then First Lady before a D.C. jury. Will anyone take action against the Clintons now?

Will this corruption knock her out of the presidential contest? Who on the shallow Democrat bench could the Democrats call on to replace her? Why are the major media suddenly giving this the attention it really deserved while she was secretary of state? Surely, they could have spent a fraction of the time they spent investigating Palin’s emails and Romney’s high school pranks to find out about this big time graftorama?

And when will Congress put some real clamps on tax-exempt corporations -- things like requiring they pay out the trillions of dollars they sit on in ten years’ time unless the corporations are designed to aid a particular, defined charitable institution like a church, hospital, or school. The broader the stated purpose of these outfits, the more likely they exist without scrutiny in perpetuity, fattening their administrators’ pay and doing no good -- like the Ford Foundation, today a big source of anti-American and anti-Israeli funding around the world.

Isn’t it time to scale back substantially on the benefits paid out to former presidents directly and through the burgeoning of useless presidential libraries. Create one presidential library, if Congress wishes, and put all succeeding presidents’ stuff there. Surely these are becoming of greater use to the former presidents and their staffs than to the general public, which pays for them.

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