Secretary Clinton and Financial Accountability

I owe a debt of gratitude to one of my twitter friends. He supports Sanders, I support Clinton. I asked him why he supported Sanders and why he doesn’t support Clinton. With the exception of my lovely neighbors at the Washington State Democratic caucus, this topic of discussion has generally not gone well. So my twitter friend has been brave to engage with me – and to his credit he has been thoroughly respectful. You know who you are – thank you!

So the reason I’m grateful is that he provided me very clear and thoughtful reasons why he does not endorse Secretary Clinton. He has also provided points of reference that align with his questions regarding what he believes to be unethical behavior by her. As a Clinton supporter, my first instinct is to dismiss his concerns as unfounded. Pouf! That was easy. But of course, it’s not that easy. Personal accountability is one of my core values. I cannot support someone to be President of the United States if she is unethical. So, I went digging for more information so that I could understand my friends concerns and decide for myself.

As a result of my search, I’m satisfied that Secretary Clinton’s financial dealings were not inappropriate. Furthermore, I’ve come to respect Secretary and President Clinton even more than before looking into the issue. 

In rough form, here below are the bullet points of what I’ve found, what I know from direct personal experience having worked in State (and ACDA), and what I believe. With links.

  • The reason we know a lot about some of these questions is because she disclosed the financial relationships, whether as part of her tax returns for the 15 years from 2000 – 2014 or as a requirement of serving as Secretary of State. See: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/06/bernie-s/bernie-sanders-has-released-few-tax-returns-compar
  • The ethics oversight of administration executives is thorough. The ethics offices at State and in other government agencies represent “we the people” in making sure that political appointees aren’t able to do exactly what Clinton critics claim she has done. The Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Ethics and Financial Disclosure is staffed by career civil servants who serve whether the administration is Democrat or Republican. Introduce yourself here: http://www.state.gov/s/l/efd
  • In addition to her personal disclosures, the Clinton Foundation also provides comprehensive financial disclosures. In reviewing amended disclosures from the Foundation, former Assistant Attorney General for Tax Division from the US Department of Justice said the Foundation demonstrated “extraordinary commitment to disclosure and thoroughness.” The cool thing about disclosures is you can read them yourself: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/annual-financial-reportshttps://www.clintonfoundation.org/sites/default/files/form990factsheet.pdf (especially describes the lengths to which the Foundation has gone to disclose their activities); https://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors where they list all of their donors.
  • On the issue of donations received by the Clinton Foundation while Secretary Clinton was in office, they were covered under an agreement struck with the Obama Administration that required the Foundation to stop taking new donations from nations, and limiting donations from a handful of countries involved in ongoing programs with the Foundation and were not to exceed the level of donations made previously. On the issue of donations from Algeria, the donation was disclosed but was not reported to State as it should have been under the agreement that was reached with the Obama Administration when Secretary Clinton took office. The fact that it was disclosed, even if it wasn’t immediately cleared with State, makes it pretty hard to convince me they were trying to do anything wrong. See more information here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/politics/clinton-foundation-donation-algeria-haiti
  • On the Foundation – it’s unusual. Here, read up: https://philanthropy.com/article/Opinion-How-to-Understand-the/230745 ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/04/27/independent-watch-groups-split-on-clinton-foundation
  • Some of the relationships and business activities involving foreign countries that are being called into question were actually initiated under the Bush administration, and completed under Obama/Clinton. (Sorry, I’ve covered a lot of territory on this and lost these links.)

Bottom line? I’m not sure what more she could do to demonstrate accountability. Again, the reason we know these things and can debate their appropriateness is because they were fully disclosed. All the questions about Clinton’s financial dealings and accountability, in light of her openness and transparency, are especially surprising inasmuch as there aren’t more questions raised about the candidates who have essentially not disclosed any of their financial dealings.

Anyone questioning her financial activities would do well to ensure that all the candidates were as forthcoming with their financials as she is. I’ll be glad to debate the propriety of her activities with anyone who brings a comparable level of detail to the table about their candidate. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Finally, Hillary Clinton is a successful and accomplished woman. Her husband is former President, one of the best liked and respected in recent memory. They have both demonstrated by the work that they do that they are committed to improving the lives of millions of Americans as well as people around the world. That this is how they are treated for their efforts is deplorable, especially when others are given a free pass.

And thanks again to my twitter friend. #Respect

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