Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Ken Berwitz

Hillary Clinton has another major ethical non-problem.

About a month ago (January 29th, to be exact) I talked about the fact that Nancy Pelosi was an officer of a "family charity" (no one outside the family is an officer of this quiet little enterprise).  She was legally required to disclose her tidy little inside position.  But she had never done so for all the years of its existence, until a couple of newspeople started sniffing around and suddenly it saw the light of day -- with apologies of course.  Apologizes make it all better. 

I also talked about the fact that Rahm Emmanuel and Evan Bayh were in exactly the same situation - i.e. officers of "family charities" that no one outside the family was involved with, who had not disclosed this information.

By law, members of congress must report their leadership roles in non-profit organizations.  None of these three did. 

And, to make matters even more interesting, none of these three "family charities" solicits funding from anyone outside the family.  Not Pelosi's.  Not Emmanuel's.  Not Bayh's.

Three prominent Democrats who are officers in "family charities" in which no one outside the family is an officer and no one outside the family has any reason to ask where the money went.  


But wait.  Now we have a fourth member of this apparently not-so-exclusive Democratic club.  Her name?  Hillary Clinton.

Here is the relevant part of  a report on Ms. Clinton's "family charity" from (of all places) The Washington Post, which was repeated yesterday on the Reuters wire. See how you like the aroma:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to list on annual Senate financial disclosure forms the family charity she operates with former president Bill Clinton, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Sen. Clinton, a Democratic presidential contender, has been an officer in the family foundation since it was established in 2001, but none of her ethics reports since then have disclosed that fact as required by congressional ethics rules, the newspaper said.

The foundation has enabled the Clintons to write off more than $5 million from their taxable income since 2001, while dispensing $1.25 million in charitable contributions over that period, the newspaper reported.

The newspaper said Clinton's office immediately amended her Senate ethics reports to add that information late Monday after receiving inquiries from The Washington Post.

"The details of the Clintons' charitable family foundation and Senator Clinton's role in it have always been publicly available but, in an oversight that leaders of both parties have made, it was inadvertently omitted from her Senate filing, which has been corrected," Clinton's spokesman Philippe Reines told the newspaper.-

Five million dollars written off, only 1.25 million dollars given out, and no one knows about it until a newspaper starts asking questions.  Then an assurance that it was just an inadvertent omission.  If they ever build a hall of fame for inadvertent omissions, Bill and Hillary Clinton will need their own wing.

Man oh man, what a great sca....er, idea this is.  Why didn't I think of it for my family?   I apologize for ever saying that Democrats are not innovative.

At the beginning I referred to this as Hillary's ethical non-problem.  It may seem a bit odd to make such a reference, given how obviously suspicious the ethics are.  But I stand by my characterization.

Why?  Because I flipped through the main stories on the network news last night, watched the Today show this morning and scanned through my copy of the New York Times.  And y'know what?  I didn't see one word about it.  Nothing.

The Democratic speaker of the house and the odds-on favorite to be the next Democratic presidential candidate are neck-deep in an ethical stinkeroo. But it isn't news.  Anna Nicole Smith?  THAT'S news.

How big do the ethical questions have to be for media to scrutinize Nancy and Hillary?  How many more millions have to be involved?  

I used to say that if BIll Clinton was caught doing a white house intern on the 50 yard line during the Superbowl halftime show, it would be touch and go as to whether mainstream media would even report it.  Clearly, Ms. Clinton enjoys the same exalted status.

Our last chance may be Barack Obama.  He's as much a darling of the media as Hillary is.  If HE mentions this ethical sewage maybe they'll notice that it exists.  Let's all stay tuned and see.

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