Hillary's scandals starting to affect fundraising

The most serious threat yet to Hillary Clinton’s planned cakewalk to the presidency is finally being spoken about in public. Donors, observing that donations to Team Clinton are now under scrutiny as possible bribes, are thinking twice about investing in a candidacy that used to be seen as inevitable. Usually, such doubts are left unspoken in public. But now, a top fundraiser is obliquely expressing his fears and his plans to suspend findraising.  S. A. Miller reports in the Washington Times:

A top Democratic moneyman recruited by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign has put fundraising activities on hold, saying he can’t do it with a clear conscience because the former secretary of state has too many unanswered questions swirling around her.

New York businessman Jon Cooper, who Team Clinton enlisted for its elite corps of early fundraisers known as “HillStarters,” said that he decided not to tap his donor network for Mrs. Clinton because she hasn’t provided enough answers about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she ran the State Department, her exclusive use of private email for official business as America’s top diplomat and her commitment to liberal priorities.

“I’m officially on the fence,” said Mr. Cooper, a bundler for President Obama’s campaigns who is active in Democratic politics in New York, which Mrs. Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate and where she has set up her campaign headquarters.

Mr. Cooper is not stating any worries about being tarred with the brush of corruption for merely raising money for Hillary.  But that is the clear background of his worries.  Now that donations are linked to corruption, anyone with any worries about being fairly or unfairly construed as corrupt (which includes anyone with sufficient money as a donor to be notable) must think carefully about donating to Team Hillary.

A vicious circle is constructing itself for Mrs. Clinton, reversing the self-reinforcing sense of inevitability that powered her juggernaut.  Formerly, her people could realistically speak of raising two and half billion dollars (double the previous record for a presidential candidate’s fundraising) because she was seen as inevitable.  Any potential donor would realize that donations would lead to access, which would lead to positive outcomes.  And any failure to donate would also be noted.

But now, the logic reverses itself.  She may not be so inevitable, and a donation may lead to negative attention, perhaps leading to negative outcomes, the very reverse of what a donation might have been seen as buying.  The more these doubts rise (and the revelations are continuing), the less inevitable she seems.  The more doubt there is about her success, the less the payoff, and the greater the risk of critical scrutiny cast on her donors, especially if a Republican attorney general takes office in 2017 with a vow to clean up the mess in Washington.  

Suddenly, the calculations shift among the donor class.

And Hillary, without the money advantage she had been counting on, is less fearsome to all the potential Democrat rivals who have been biding their time.  The bigger they come, the harder they fall.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman