Hillary Clinton’s critics claim that federal ethics laws were broken when her subordinates at the State Department arranged meetings and other favors for donors to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation.
Evidence is still surfacing as to who at the State Department did what and why. But as a former chief White House ethics lawyer in the Bush administration, I can tell you that allegations of favoritism for donors is nothing new. There were plenty such allegations during the Bill Clinton administration. If nothing changes, I believe it will be more of the same in a Hillary Clinton administration.
As I illustrate in my book, “Getting the Government America Deserves,” there was also favoritism for donors in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. Same for Congress over many years. The same is arguably true for the Obama administration. One case in point: access to staff in the White House and Department of Energy granted to investors in Solyndra Solar Energy Company. The Clinton Foundation may be a novel twist to an old problem, but donors get high-level access every day in Washington.
The Clinton Foundation is a marginally relevant side show in the gigantic multibillion dollar circus of American campaign finance. Almost all American politicians depend upon money to get elected, and almost all consciously or unconsciously do favors for their donors. Corruption is eating away at our republic. The media’s obsession with the indirect ways in which a single charitable foundation advances a single candidate’s career misses the point.
Clinton’s critics and the candidate herself should instead focus on what American voters of all political convictions really want: less influence for big money in American government.