Tag Archives: influence peddling

Ethics Observations On The Trump Sons’ Influence Peddling Story

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To catch you up: Celebrity gossip website TMZ  hyped the launch of new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric based on what it called a “draft” of a soon to be released event brochure. The non-profit was offering, we were told, access to the new President during inauguration weekend  in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation” charities.  Prospective million-dollar donors to the “Opening Day 2017” event on  January 21, the day after inauguration, were to receive a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team, ”as well as tickets to other events” and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer.”

The Center for Public Integrity was on this like a shot…and so was the news media. I received a link in an e-mail from someone who archly noted that “You seem to be interested in influence peddling,” a reference to my many posts about the real purpose behind the Clinton Foundation, “so perhaps you will find this of interest [Unsaid but understood: “…you Donald Trump enabling, racist, fascist bastard!”] In the link, TIME took the hand-off from the Center, and got a series of quotes from critics, like Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign reform organization.“This is problematic on so many levels,” Larry said.  “This is Donald Trump and the Trump family using a brand new organization to raise $1 million contributions for a vague goal of giving money to conservation charities, which seems a way of basically just selling influence and selling the ability to meet with the president.”

Noble cautioned that the details of the event and its association with the new nonprofit listing the Trump brothers as directors were still unclear. “It’s really hard to identify all the problems when they’re so vague,” he said.

True. As of today, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are no longer listed as directors of a that non-profit. Papers removing their names from the Opening Day were processed by the state of Texas,  a spokeswoman for the Texas secretary of state told CNN Money.

Never mind!

Observations: Continue reading

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A Special Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Friday Bulletin: Obama Calls The Hacked DNC E-Mails “Gossip” [UPDATED]

gossip

As I write this, President Obama is using his press conference to spin the Russia-Wikileaks hacked e-mails story. In addition to snidely implying that Americans are idiots for allowing such relative trivia to sway their votes when so much of substance was at stake (note that there is no evidence that any votes were thus swayed), the President referred to the content of the DNC e-mails as “gossip.” Gossip is generally defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.” Calling the contents of Podesta’s e-mails and others “gossip” is deliberate disinformation by Obama—a lie. The most important revelations were definitely not “gossip.” Like these:

  • A 12-page memo written by Doug Band,  longtime aide to Bill Clinton, describes using his consulting firm to raise money for the Clinton Global Initiative as well as direct personal income for the former president. It describes how Band rallied clients of his firm, Teneo, to contribute directly to Mr Clinton for “in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like” referring to that fund as “Bill Clinton Inc”.

The memo confirmed that several companies directly paid the former president for his speeches or advice, while making contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative.  One client, Coca Cola, received a face-to-face meeting with the former president at his home in 2009, after contributing millions to the non-profit foundation.

Verdict: Not gossip, but smoking-gun evidence of Clinton influence peddling.

  • On the fateful day that news of a private email server broke, John Podesta emailed Neera Tanden, who worked for the Clinton campaign in 2008 and has remained a close adviser, to complain, saying, “We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat”, he wrote in September 2015 as Clinton staff feared that Vice President Joe Biden would join the Democratic primary race. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts. Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.” In the email exchange, Mr Podesta also complained that Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, and former State Department staffers Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines “sure weren’t forthcoming here on the facts here”. Mrs Tanden responds “Why didn’t’ they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy.”

Tanden later answered her own question saying, “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”

Verdict: Not gossip. These were assessments of those who know Clinton best, and their questioning her judgment was significant, as is the last comment, which completely undermines the year-long Clinton camp denial that there was anything amiss with Hillary’s handling of e-mail at State. It would be admissible in court to show state of mind and that the Clinton camp had lied. Continue reading

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Election Extra! This News Story Illustrates Why You Can’t Trust Hillary Clinton: Corruption! Conflict Of Interest! Lies! Cover-Up! And Of Course, The Mainsteam News Media Doesn’t Want You To Understand It, Which Is Part Of The Story Itself

[ I apologize: this is long. I also think it is important: I know this may be a tipping point for me. I hope you’ll read it, and share it.]

Yesterday, I saw this news item from Reuters, one of the few respectable news sources on the U.S. election that has not been distorting and withholding information to tip public opinion one way or the other. I tracked it all day to see whether the mainstream news media would highlight, or even mention it.

Significantly, the information involved came in a post-workday news dump on a Friday, a technique that has become a favorite of the Obama administration, and has been adopted by its party too.  If you missed it, in other words, that was the intention.

I’ll bold the most critical points:

Reuters:

The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, and sought to meet the former U.S. president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, was published last month by WikiLeaks.

Clinton signed an ethics agreement governing her family’s globe-straddling foundation in order to become secretary of state in 2009. The agreement was designed to increase transparency to avoid appearances that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by wealthy donors.

If a new foreign government wished to donate or if an existing foreign-government donor, such as Qatar, wanted to “increase materially” its support of ongoing programs, Clinton promised that the State Department’s ethics official would be notified and given a chance to raise any concerns.

Clinton Foundation officials last month declined to confirm the Qatar donation. In response to additional questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, this week said that it accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but this did not amount to a “material increase” in the Gulf country’s support for the charity. Cookstra declined to say whether Qatari officials received their requested meeting with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, declined to discuss the donation.

The State Department has said it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, and that it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions about the donation.

According to the foundation’s website, which lists donors in broad categories by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar’s government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years.

The Clinton Foundation has said it would no longer accept money from foreign governments if Clinton is elected president and would spin off those programs that are dependent on foreign governments.

“MATERIAL” INCREASE

Foundation officials told Reuters last year that they did not always comply with central provisions of the agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration, blaming oversights in some cases.(reut.rs/2fkHPCh)

At least eight other countries besides Qatar gave new or increased funding to the foundation, in most cases to fund its health project, without the State Department being informed, according to foundation and agency records. They include Algeria, which gave for the first time in 2010, and the United Kingdom, which nearly tripled its support for the foundation’s health project to $11.2 million between 2009 and 2012.

Foundation officials have said some of those donations, including Algeria, were oversights and should have been flagged, while others, such as the UK increase, did not qualify as material increases.

The foundation has declined to describe what sort of increase in funding by a foreign government would have triggered notification of the State Department for review. Cookstra said the agreement was designed to “allow foreign funding for critical Clinton Foundation programs” to continue without disruption.

The State Department said it has no record of being asked by the foundation to review any increases in support by a foreign government.Asked whether Qatar was funding a specific program at the foundation, Cookstra said the country supported the organization’s “overall humanitarian work.”

“Qatar continued supporting Clinton Foundation at equal or lower levels” compared with the country’s pre-2009 support, he said. He declined to say if Qatar gave any money during the first three years of Clinton’s four-year term at the State Department, or what its support before 2009 amounted to.

In another email released by WikiLeaks, a former Clinton Foundation fundraiser said he raised more than $21 million in connection with Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday in 2011.

Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Bill Clinton did not respond to emailed questions about the donation.

Now let’s get this out of the way up front: the import and significance of the facts in this story were covered up…by Clinton, by her Foundation, by State, and by the news media.This story was buried in October by the Donald Trump “pussy-grabbing” video, and the news media focused the public’s attention on little else. Continue reading

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The Clinton Foundation’s Confession, (or) “Is The Public Really As Stupid As The Clintons Think It Is?”

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Bill Clinton said last week that the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept foreign or corporate money and also that he would resign from its board should Hillary Clinton win the Presidency.

The logic of this, one assumes, is to allay any fears that President Hillary Clinton would allow access and influence to be purchased by foreign powers by contributing to a foundation that exists substantially to line the pockets of the three and to provide a foundation...but the other kind, not the non-profit kind—for Clinton power-brokering, career advancement and mutual back scratching.

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Allow me to pause for a brief expansion on that…

The New York Times, which really is good at telling the truth while deceiving its readers anyway, describes the Clinton Foundation as working “globally to combat AIDS/H.I.V., malaria, childhood obesity and climate change, and promotes women’s rights and other causes.” This is true, but it is also lying by omission, because it intentionally omits the shady side of the story. Here is how Jonathan Chait, as full-throated a Clinton booster as you can find in the pundit ranks, describes the Foundation:

“The purpose of the Clinton Foundation is to leverage Clinton fame into charitable donations. That purpose has important positive effects — shaking loose donations for AIDS prevention and training African farmers and other worthy causes. But it also has the unavoidable side effect of giving rich people a way to curry favor with a powerful elected official.”

Exactly. Perfectly stated, except that “giving rich people a way to curry favor with a powerful elected official” is a euphemism for “quid pro quo,” or better yet, bribery. It is unethical, and also illegal if you can prove it, which is generally hard to do, especially when the “contributions” are designated for worthy causes, though much of them somehow end up paying for the Clintons’ regal lifestyle. Chait’s uncritical assessment of this per se corruption is stated thusly:

“There’s a reason the term politician is synonymous with lying, calculation, and ambition — these are common qualities for politicians. The Clintons are common politicians, motivated in general by a desire to implement policy changes they think will make the world a better place, but not immune to trimming and getting rich in the process. None of their behavior is disqualifying, given the number of elected officials, presidents included, who have done the same”

Translation: “Everybody does it, but the Clintons are just better at doing it and getting rich in the process. Stop bitching.”

That Chait says that behaving this way isn’t disqualifying explains everything, including why the metastasizing  ethics rot in our government will slowly but surely result in the predatory elected official conduct common in Africa if the public doesn’t insist that it is disqualifying, and start recognizing ethically-hollow opinion makers like Chait for what they are…enablers and courtiers.

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Parenthetical discourse over; thank-you for your attention. Continue reading

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Tales From The “Bias Makes Us Stupid” Files: Is It Possible That The News Media Really Thinks That Donald Trump’s Latest Stupid Blather Is More Newsworthy Than Hillary Trading State Department Favors For Foundation Contributions

Media bias

In a statement that is mindblowing for its shameless ethics ignorance, Slate editor Josh Voorhees wrote,

“The latest batch of State Department emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure, released Tuesday, further highlights the occasionally overlapping interests between the agency and the Clinton Foundation. The messages, which don’t directly involve the Democratic nominee herself, aren’t going to overshadow Donald Trump’s ongoing self-immolation—nor should they—but they are worth a closer look.”

“Nor should they?”

Nor should they?

By what possible set of warped values could the latest inanity from a Presidential candidate who constantly says silly, inarticulate and ultimately meaningless things the second they pop into what we generously call “his brain,” be more worthy of public attention than revelations that the other candidate for President used her position in the State Department for the enrichment of herself and her family?

The former is a well-established idiot free-associator idiotically free-associating with the same results he always gets. Why is this news? It is only news because the news media, knowing well that Trump just utters  jokes, ad-libs, random observations, musings, insults and all sorts of other things that adults never say in public because his confused and disoriented fans enjoy them, intentionally treats them as serious statements of a serious person, when they know very well he is not. The latest of these is the Trump assertion that Obama is “literally” the “founder of ISIS.” It is as newsworthy as if Trump said “Obama is literally a tree frog.” OK, everyone knows this isn’t true, and that Trump is a babbling fool. Got it. Next? Yet this non-story gets absurd attention: like at ABC News, The National Memo, Business Insider, Fox News Insider, Politicus USA, Washington Post, Raw Story, The New Civil Rights MovementDaily Kos, The Times of Israel, CBS New York, RT, Balloon Juice, New York Magazine, Guardian, Independent Journal Review, Mother Jones, NBC News,and Mediaite.

Before that, it was media hysteria over Trump’s bizarre “Second Amendment people” crack being a crime, which Popehat neatly debunks here. Ken White’s  opening statement is also enlightening: “Donald Trump, against all advice and rumors of pivot, will continue to be Donald Trump.”

Exactly. Which means his continuing to say stuff that mature and responsible people don’t say is not legitimate front page news.

Ah, but it provides an excuse not to explain to the public how stunningly corrupt Hillary is and has been. That is the objective, and an biased and unethical objective it is. Continue reading

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“Unethical Presidential Candidates Sunday” (EXTENDED): Hillary’s New Public Corruption Plan? If They Won’t Willingly Vote For Her After They Learn What She’s Like, Make Them promise To Vote For Her No Matter What They Learn

Loyalty Oath

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘ via Mediaite: Attendees at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in Cleveland, Ohio, were asked to sign a pledge promising to vote for the candidate before they were allowed into the venue.

Yes, this is basically a loyalty oath. Loyalty is the most confounding of ethical values, because it so frequently leads to unethical resolutions of ethics conflicts, when loyalty requires the rejection of other ethical values that should be given priority. Many unethical organizations and leaders insist on loyalty even if they will disdain honesty, integrity, responsibility, accountability, fairness and decency. Used like this, loyalty becomes a virtue that enables unethical conduct. A mother refuses to report her murderous son. A wife abets her raping husband (Hello, Camille Cosby!) Another wife supports her husbands lies about his adultery. (Now who could this be?) Blind loyalty directs Southerners to insist that their forebears weren’t rebelling in support of slavery, African-Americans to insist that a black President is a great President, and patriots to spit “Disloyal!” at principled protesters of national policies abroad.

Obviously, loyalty is very useful to leaders who are untrustworthy or corrupt. They seek support out of quid quo pro transactions that insist, “You owe me! I was there for you, so you must be there for me, no matter what happens,” “no matter what happens” meaning “no matter what awful things I do and what unsavory things you learn about me.” It isn’t patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson famously said, but loyalty. Loyalty was the main bulwark of power and survival for Don Corleone, Colonel Jessup (“A Few Good Men”), Auric Goldfinger,  Darth Vader…and in the real world, Richard Nixon, Mao, Jesse James, Bill Clinton…and obviously, Hillary. Continue reading

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“You Know I Can’t Hear You With All Those Ethics Alarms Ringing”: Hillary Clinton’s CNN Interview

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The frightening thing—it should frighten Democrats more than anyone, but if they have let Hillary get this far, they may be beyond frightening—is that Hillary Clinton had a long time to prep for this interview—her first substantive one since announcing her candidacy, about five or six scandals ago—had a hand-picked, friendly interviewer, was not pressed to clarify any of her non-answers, obfuscations or incomprehensible blather, and she still came off looking defensive, evasive, and basically like Tommy Flanagan in drag.

Ethics Alarms were ringing so loudly that the interview was almost inaudible. My observations in bold….

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for talking to us today.  You’re here in Iowa for a couple of events.  You’re the front-runner in this state but we’re also seeing Bernie Sanders attract a lot of attention.  He has had big crowds here, 10,000 people in Wisconsin last week, 7,500 people in Maine last night. Why is it, do you think, that someone who is a self-described Democratic socialist is really attracting this organic interest that your campaign seems to be struggling a little bit with?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, first of all, I always thought this would be a competitive race.  So I am happy to have a chance to get out and run my campaign as I see fit and let other candidates do exactly the same.

Non-responsive. Also a lie: Clinton has always assumed she could get the nomination by just showing up.

I feel very good about where we are in Iowa.  We are signing up thousands of volunteers, people committed to caucus for us.  We have a committed supporter in every one of the 1,600 precincts.  And one of the things that I learned last time is it’s organize, organize, organize.  And you’ve got to get people committed.  And then they will follow through and then you bring more people.

Non-responsive.

So I feel very good about where my campaign is.  It’ll be three months and a few days that we’ve been at this.  I think I’ve learned a lot from listening to people in Iowa.  And it’s actually affected what I say and what I talk about on the campaign trail.

Non-responsive.

So I couldn’t be happier about my campaign.

Non-responsive. Pretending to open yourself to a candid question and answer session and then refusing to answer the very first question while pretending you did: Dishonest. Disrespectful.

KEILAR:  Senator Sanders  has talked about how, if he’s president, he would raise taxes.  In fact, he said to CNN’s Jake Tapper, he would raise them substantially higher than they are today, on big corporations, on wealthy Americans. Would you?

CLINTON:  I will be laying out my own economic policies.  Again, everybody has to run his or her own campaign.  And I’m going to be telling the American people what propose and how I think it will work and then we’ll let voters make up their minds.

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself actually let voters know what I stand for. After all, I’m a vagina. That’s what really matters.”

KEILAR:  Is raising taxes on the table?

CLINTON:  I’m going to put out my policies and I’ll other people speak to their policies because I think we have to both grow the economy faster and fairer so we have to do what will actually work in the short term, the medium term and the long term.  I will be making a speech about my economic proposals on Monday.  And then I look forward to the debate about them.

If Clinton made a speech Monday (July 7) about specific economic proposals, she did it in her closet, because all anyone actually heard was this.

KEILAR:  I’m wondering if you can address a vulnerability that we’ve seen you dealing with recently.  We see in our recent poll that nearly six in 10 Americans say they don’t believe that you’re honest and trustworthy. Do you understand why they feel that way?

CLINTON:  Well, I think when you are subjected to the kind of constant barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the Right and –

The vast right wing conspiracy again! Ironic, because one very good reason people shouldn’t, and  many sane people actually do not, trust Hillary is when she made teh same accusation on the Today Show to Matt Lauer, claiming that the Monica Lewinsky scandal had been “largely fomented by and coming from the Right,” when in fact she knew otherwise and was lying for her husband.

KEILAR:  But do you bear any responsibility for that?

CLINTON:  – well, I – you know, I can only tell you that I was elected twice in New York against the same kind of onslaught.

“I got away with it before, didn’t I?” Continue reading

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