August 26, 2016
The questions surrounding the Clinton Foundation have been probably the most troubling of the ethical scandals involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In my new book (Vote Your Conscience: Party Must Not Trump Principles), I devoted attention to the conflicts of interest, shady deals, and lies regarding the Clinton Foundation. It's one of the main reasons I cannot join "Team Clinton" even as I also reject "Team Trump."
This week, new revelations emerged about the Clinton Foundation that continue to show Hillary's record of unethical governance. Newly-released emails and meeting schedules from Clinton's time as Secretary of State show donors to the Foundation receiving meetings with Secretary Clinton. This again raises serious concerns about people - including autocratic foreign leaders seeking weapons - buying access or favors from the State Department by giving to the Foundation.
To alleviate the growing criticism, the Foundation announced this week that if Clinton's elected president, the Foundation will no longer accept foreign or corporate donations. Additionally, Bill Clinton will then resign from the Board, although Chelsea will remain. Ethicists quickly scoffed at the idea that such a plan would eliminate problematic conflicts of interests. And should we trust Clinton since she failed to keep her promise to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest as Secretary of State?
The announcement of post-election changes provides a tacit admission that the criticisms about the Foundation have merit. If no foreign or corporate money should be accepted during a Clinton presidency, then why was it okay under a Clinton reign at the State Department? If Bill Clinton's leadership at the Foundation would raise conflicts of interest next year, then why was it okay in the past? Or now? The planned changes show the Foundation and Secretary Clinton didn't do enough to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. And given the polls showing Clinton likely to win in November, why not stop accepting foreign and corporate money right now? After all, someone could give now to buy access next year. As Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas remarked, the announcement is like posting a "fire sale" for contributions right now.
The Old Testament prophets spent a lot of time blasting leaders for using their power to enrich themselves while the people suffer. We, too, must reject such leaders. So I plan to vote against Clinton (and her Foundation and campaign donor, Donald Trump). We need a more stable foundation for our democracy.