- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell deserves jail time, so does former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I’m not making light of what McDonnell did — his corruption trial represents everything the U.S. electorate suspects and hates about politicians. McDonnell was convicted in 2014 of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from a drug executive who sought the governor’s influence in getting Food and Drug Administrative approval for his company’s dietary supplements.

McDonnell’s team will argue Wednesday in front of the Supreme Court to dismiss his case, essentially saying, he did what all other politicians do — accept gifts from people seeking help from the government.

“Close relationships between business leaders, lobbyists and public officials are commonplace,” McDonnell said in a court filing, arguing his actions didn’t violate Virginia law. He said that sending politicians for prison for accepting gifts from their constituents and lobbyists would “radically reshape politics in this nation.”

Perhaps that’s exactly what needs to happen — for politics to be reshaped. And if the court decides to do so and rule against his appeal, then Hillary Clinton should be next in jail.

The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from foreign countries that were lobbying Mrs. Clinton during her time as secretary of state. In one case, the Algerian government in 2010 donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which coincided with a spike in the northern African country’s lobbying visits to the State Department, The Washington Post reported last year.

Not only were countries donating, but so were corporations.

“Major U.S. companies that lobbied the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure were much more likely to donate to the Clinton Foundation than corporations that were not attempting to influence the agency,” according to a Washington Examiner analysis.

Then there’s the charge of Mrs. Clinton granting special access to her son-in-law’s friend while serving as Secretary of State.

A conservative watchdog has called for a federal investigation into Mrs. Clinton who asked State Department officials at the time to follow-up on the request from her son-in-law to grant a meeting to an investor of a deep-sea mining company to discuss “mining and the current legal issues and regulations.” In other words, to lobby her and her department.

And then the speeches.

More than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

As an example, Mr. Clinton netted $1 million for two appearances sponsored by the Abu Dhabi government during and after the State Department and Department of Homeland Security were involved in discussions to open a U.S. facility in the Abu Dhabi airport to ease visa processing for travel in the U.S., The Journal reported.

But in all these cases, there was never any solid evidence of a quid pro quo.

And there isn’t with McDonnell either. Virginia law allows politicians to accept gifts, and he was never charged with breaking state law.

What is McDonnell guilty of? Attending a lunch at the governor’s mansion where the executive (who’s company is located in Virginia, making him both a constituent and employer in the state) gave out grants for universities, for attending a reception with the businessman, and for asking to arrange a meeting with the businessman and his staff.

If the Supreme Court rules against McDonnell, most politicians could be targeted by federal prosecutors for simply arranging meetings with their donors or attending receptions with them.

Which brings me to my final point: if the court finds McDonnell guilty of corruption, then the Justice Department’s next target should be Mrs. Clinton.

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