- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Bill Clinton helps a Canadian mining magnate win a lucrative uranium contract from Kazakhstan’s state-owned nuclear holding company Kazatomprom. The magnate subsequently donates $31 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation and pledges $100 million more. Both men deny it until the New York Times tracks down a very happy Kazatomprom executive. Amid this revelation, Hillary Clinton is trying to conduct a presidential campaign.

Through no fault of her own, this series of transactions constitutes a very serious problem for Mrs. Clinton, for the simple reason that Bill’s business affairs are also her own. The rules for Clinton Foundation fund-raising are much more lax than the rules that govern political campaigns. No laws appear to have been broken and the Canadian businessman in question, the highly successful Frank Giustra, is by all accounts a man of propriety. But no one can reasonably argue that Clinton Foundation donations are meaningless in Mrs. Clinton’s political calculations or for her own financial interests. No American should need to question what Mrs. Clinton’s interests would be as president, if, in some future crisis, White House hotlines are burning over Kazakh uranium.

Clinton Foundation donations that materially affect Mr. Clinton must also be considered to do the same to his wife as she seeks to be president. And here, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in uranium interests in a highly repressive society with a highly repressive government. In American presidential politics, this leaves many questions.

There is much uncharted territory as a former first lady makes a serious presidential bid, but this is an easy call. In the event that Mrs. Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, Mr. Clinton will be compelled to give back the $31 million even though it will disrupt his foundation’s very worthy activities. Mr. Clinton has already begun to sever many of his existing business relationships to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest. A president’s judgment must be above question — whether that president is a man or a woman.

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