Corporations, corruption, and Hillary Clinton

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Corporations, corruption, and Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks to supporters in Dallas at Mountain View College on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks to supporters in Dallas at Mountain View College on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

By IONA BATCHELDER
Opinion Editor

This morning, January 30, the New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President. Its choice was not surprising given the sheer amount of coverage Clinton has received in the paper for the past few months, and the minimal coverage Bernie Sanders has gotten—his name not even being mentioned in certain articles about the presidential race. I am an avid reader of the Times, and have been for many years, but in this case it is simply mistaken. Clinton is not the best candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Despite how much she denies it, Clinton is and has been extremely friendly with Wall Street in the past. At the most recent Democratic debate in December, Clinton said only about 3% of donations to her campaign came from “people in the finance and investment world.” This was a false claim; OpenSecrets.org revealed after the debate that those donations were actually 7.2% of the total—more than double what Clinton stated in the debate. They found this figure by adding in donations to outside groups such as super PACs. As of today, Clinton has received almost $5.6 million from the securities and investment industry. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has received just $47,187 from the securities and investment industry.

According to Elisabeth MacDonald of FOX Business Network, as Secretary of State, Clinton worked on behalf of the private sector for companies like American Airlines, Exxon Mobil, FedEx and Boeing; according to the Wall Street Journal, “nearly five dozen companies donated more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation also had lobbied the State Department during her tenure.” Vox points out that “the size and scope of the symbiotic relationship between the Clintons and their donors is striking. At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department” when Hillary Clinton was in charge.

This alone is not illegal behavior, but it is certainly morally questionable. It is true that nobody has been able to find proof of Clinton enacting specific policy based on these donations. However, many have identified a “pattern of behavior” that calls into question how much the public can trust Hillary Clinton, as she accepted millions of dollars from companies and foreign governments while she served in government office. Current Secretary of State John Kerry put it eloquently when he outlined the following situation to Clinton herself at her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State: “if you are traveling to some country and you meet with the foreign leadership and a week later or two weeks later or three weeks later [Bill Clinton] travels there and solicits a donation and they pledge to give at some point in the future but nobody knows, is there an appearance of a conflict?” Kerry asked.

The Clinton Foundation actually violated a 2008 agreement with the Obama administration when it accepted a $500,000 donation from Algeria without notifying the State Department in 2010. That year, according to the Washington Post, Algeria spent $422,097 lobbying the U.S. government on both human rights issues and American-Algerian relations. Foundation officials now acknowledge they should have sought approval for the Algerian donation from the State Department ethics office, as required by the 2008 agreement.

One last shady aspect of Clinton is the sheer amount of speaking fees from private companies she has received over the years. According to the Wall Street Journal, after she was Secretary of State, she received $675,000 for delivering three paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. She received a whopping $2.2 million in speaking fees from the bank between 2005 and 2013. According to Business Insider, after her tenure as Secretary of State, she made nearly $12 million total in speaking fees that topped $335,000 for dozens of speeches. A significant portion of this money came from tech companies; eBay paid $315,000 for a 20 minute speech, while Cisco paid Clinton $325,000 for her to simply sit onstage with the company’s CEO. Several news organizations that have checked out the financial disclosure form have not agreed on exact numbers for many other speeches, as the form (released online by the New York Times) is blurry when users zoom in.

I did not even mention the so-called Benghazi scandal, or Clinton’s email “scandal,” because those are two phenomena that have been largely manufactured or snowballed by Republicans. The issues I chose to highlight are real issues, in my and many other Americans’ minds. Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her coziness with Wall Street, the lavish speaking fees she has collected over the past few years, her dubious acceptance of donations from foreign countries while working as the head of the state department—all these are reasons why she simply cannot be our next president. The New York Times pointed out in their editorial that they had endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008 as well. They were wrong then, and I hope they are wrong again in 2016.

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