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The Clinton Business Model

The Clinton Business Model

Democrats are starting to ask if Hillary Clinton could lose to Donald Trump, and one reason they should worry appeared on page one of the Journal on Friday. Our news colleagues tell the story of how Bill Clinton used the nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative to funnel private money to a company owned by friends of Bill and Hillary.

The Clinton Global Initiative—a program of the nonprofit Clinton Foundation—greased the wheels in 2010 for a Canadian businesswoman, Kim Samuel, to make a $2 million financial commitment to a green-energy company, Energy Pioneer Solutions. The company was founded in 2009 by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who ran and lost twice for Congress in Nebraska and had a 29% stake in the company—according to 2009 documents cited by the Journal.

Another 29% was owned by Julie Tauber McMahon, a close friend and neighbor of the Clintons in Chappaqua, New York. Five percent was owned by Andrew Tobias, the Democratic National Committee treasurer, and another 5% by former Rhode Island Democratic Party chairman Mark Weiner. Both of the latter are also longtime Clinton friends.

The story makes clear that the financial transaction was facilitated mainly by Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the Journal reports that Messrs. Weiner and Tobias have each donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit that Bill and Hillary have used to promote their public image and employ their political aides and friends between election campaigns. Mr. Weiner owns a company that has provided products for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaigns.

Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian is spinning this as “common practice” and “mission-driven investing.” But the law says nonprofits, which are exempt from most taxation, aren’t supposed to act on the financial behalf of for-profit businesses. Whatever Energy Pioneer’s good intentions about energy efficiency, its purpose is to make money for these friends of Bill and Hill.

Even more curious, details about the Energy Pioneer investment were stripped from the CGI website a few months later. The Clinton Foundation says this was done at the request of the Canadian investor—Ms. Samuel—but the Journal quotes sources who say the information was hidden “to avoid calling attention to Mr. Clinton’s friendship” with Ms. McMahon. You don’t have to be Ken Starr to understand that motivation.

The Clinton Foundation is now promising to revamp its disclosure policy, but we have seen this duck and cover before. The Foundation also failed to post details of contributions it received from foreign governments and businesses while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State—until those donations were exposed in media reports last year.

There’s more. The Journal reports that Mr. Clinton also talked to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu about a federal grant for Energy Pioneer. Mr. Chu says he doesn’t recall the conversation, but his department gave the company $812,000 in taxpayer funds in 2010.

The Energy Department had no comment on the Journal story, perhaps because Pioneer Energy isn’t doing well. The company lost at least $600,000 in its first 18 months, according to Energy Department audits. And the Journal reports that Mr. Kleeb recently “laid off most of his staff, closed his offices, sold a fleet of trucks and changed his business strategy.”

What we have here is a crystalline illustration of the Clinton political business model. Stretch the nonprofit laws to help political friends, who help the Clintons in return. Use political influence to leverage cash from government for a supposedly virtuous cause that is also a for-profit venture. Then when this sleazy deal-making is exposed, claim that everybody does it and hope the media give them another pass.

Voters can’t be sure of what they’ll get if they vote for Mr. Trump this fall, but they certainly do know what they’ll be getting if they vote for Mrs. Clinton. More crony capitalism, ethical corner-cutting and self-serving political deals.

Courtesy : wsj.com



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