- - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Successful politicians know how to avoid a conflict of interest. Unsuccessful politicians can’t recognize one when they see one, or if they do, figure they can duck when sticks, stones and subpoenas fly. Then there are the Clintons. Bubba wrote the book on how to duck and weave. Hillary is learning, with difficulty. She doesn’t have the good ol’ boy’s wink and smile.

The latest Clinton saga — this is from the scandal machine that keeps on giving — was revealed this week by The New York Times. Marc Mezvinsky, husband of Chelsea, has apparently used his inside track with his in-laws to attract investments to Eaglevale, the hedge fund he co-founded and manages. Several wealthy Wall Street friends of his mother-in-law, who have contributed to her presidential campaign, have become Mr. Mezvinsky’s investors, too.

There’s apparently nothing jail-y or even unethical. So far. But it’s curious and maybe a conflict of interest when mother-in-law is running for president. It may be only the reckless gamble of a cocky young man, but once you’re a Clinton, even by marriage, you invite scrutiny and speculation. Mr. Mezvinsky directed his investors to put their money behind Greek government bonds, betting that the Greek economy would improve. The New York Times reports that “the $380 million fund dropped 3.6 percent [in value] last year, losing millions, while similar funds rose 5.62 percent on average.” These, the newspaper observed with a serving of wry, were “underwhelming returns.”

Anyone who has held a position in the executive branch of the government should have read the guidelines published by the United States Office of Government Ethics, in particular a section called “Preventing Conflicts of Interest in the Executive.” Bill and Hillary could usefully review it to see whether any lines, legal or ethical, have been crossed as scrutiny turns to their vast and sudden wealth and the fungible lines between them and a host of donors, business partners and assorted others in their orbit. Son-in-law might give it a look, too.

Eaglevale’s investors include hedge fund billionaire Marc Lasry and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Lasry, “a longtime Clinton friend,” runs Avenue Capital, where Chelsea worked on graduation from Stanford. He told the newspaper that he “gave them money because I thought they would make me money.” Mr. Blankfein said he had “always been a fan of Hillary Clinton.”

These may be good enough reasons, and this must sound to the Clintons, and to their son-in-law, like more blah, blah, blah. They’ve heard this song whistled before. Bubba has always lived dangerously, and been rewarded with survival. He grooves on the sound of wheels spinning within wheels. The Jacob Rothschild family has donated to the Clinton Foundation, invested $15 million with Eaglevale and Bill has spoken at a Rothschild Foundation conference sponsored by the Rothschild Foundation.

There can be power, as well as entertainment, in coincidence. Kamyl Bazbaz, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation, tried to brush aside the coincidences: “Where our supporters choose to invest is obviously their personal prerogative and has nothing to do with the foundation in any respect.” Of course not. Heaven forfend!


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