by Dick Morris | January 6, 2016 12:07 am
One thing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have in common — they both like to have big things named after them.
The latest batch of emails released by the State Department uncovers a massive ego trip by the former secretary of state. Anxious to etch her name in glass, as well as in history, she and her closest aides raised $37 million from corporations and foreign governments to build a U.S. Diplomacy Center to be named after Clinton.
In a Feb. 1, 2013 email — the last days of Clinton’s tenure at State — close friend and special adviser to the secretary Elizabeth Bagley gushed to Cheryl Mills, “I am dedicated to having her return to the State Department next year for the dedication of the glass building that will bear her name.”
Apparently unaware of the perils of building a glass house while throwing stones, Bagley successfully solicited funds from at least 14 corporations, almost all of whom had lobbied the State Department on issues near to their hearts. Four oppressive Middle East governments — United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Brunei, all with close ties to the Clinton Foundation and important issues before State also contributed.
For the balance of the funds, Bagley relied on the usual coterie of corporations that regularly support Clinton’s favored causes.
The largest gifts of $2.5 million or more came from four companies — FedEx, Boeing, PepsiCo and Intel. All four also contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
Recently released schedules indicated that Clinton personally met with the CEOs of FedEx, Pepsi and Boeing.
Boeing was particularly generous, giving not only $2.5 million for the would-be Hillary Center and $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation. These donations came after Hillary Clinton personally and successfully intervened to try to persuade Russia to buy $3.7 billion of Boeing aircraft.
Other contributors included Cisco, the Bank of America, Caterpillar, Citigroup, Ebay, General Electric, Microsoft, Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of The Blackstone Group, and Wal-Mart, all of whom gave between $500,000 and $1,000,000 to the Hillary Center project. All except Schwarzman were also Clinton Foundation donors. (Schwarzman’s partner, Peter Peterson, gave between one and five million dollars to the Foundation.)
Apart from the questionable propriety of collecting money to get a building named after you, what is wrong with this ego trip?
It’s very similar to what Congressman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., did, an action that led to his censure by the House and his loss of the Chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. Rangel used his Congressional staff, resources and official stationery to solicit funds for a graduate center to be named after him at the City University of New York. The charge was improperly using government resources to raise money. According to the Associated Press, “Some of the donors, the committee found, were businesses and foundations with issues before the House Ways and Means Committee. The contributions left the impression that the money was to influence legislation, although Rangel was not charged with taking any action on behalf of donors.”
Clinton used Bagley, on her official staff, to solicit funds for the would-have-been Hillary Center for U.S. Diplomacy. And she got donations from corporations.
To again quote the AP story, those businesses that donated to Rangel had “issues before the House Ways and Means Committee.” Is it not true that here, as with Rangel, the donations “left the impression that the money was to influence legislation?”
Is there any difference between what Clinton did and what Rangel was censured and humiliated for doing?
Apparently cooler — or wiser — heads prevailed. When the ground breaking for the new Center was held, in September 2014, Hillary Clinton’s name had been dropped from the Center’s Cornice. While Clinton attended as a former secretary of state, other attendees included Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, John Kerry, James Baker and Colin Powell. No mention was made of the building being named for her.
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