- - Thursday, August 25, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hillary Clinton believes the latest controversies dogging the Clinton Foundation and her State Department email exchanges and meetings are simply a laughing matter. The Democratic nominee is quick to blame Donald Trump and brush off any criticism over the cozy relationship with foundation donors during her time at the State Department as partisan sniping.

Asked on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” if she was concerned about the release a new batch of her State Department emails before this fall’s debate, Mrs. Clinton responded, “No, Jimmy, my emails are so boring. And I’m embarrassed about that. They’re so boring. So we’ve already released, I don’t know, 30,000-plus, so what’s a few more?”

Mrs. Clinton took a similar approach when the FBI began investigating her private server last year. In August 2015 when reporters asked Mrs. Clinton about “wiping” her server before handing it to the FBI, she said with a laugh, “What, like with a cloth or something? I don’t know how it works digitally at all.”

That nervous laugh gives her away every time. Mrs. Clinton believes that making light of her emails woes shows that it’s no big deal and the questions will go away. But there’s nothing funny about what we have learned from her unending cycle of scandals, and voters don’t appreciate when she jokes about her careless behavior with sensitive information or the appearance of pay-for-play access to the State Department. It makes her look guilty as charged.



The Associated Press reported this week that more than half of her meetings with private individuals in the State Department from the time period examined — not including U.S. government employees or foreign government officials — were with foundation donors, and that the 85 donors identified contributed as much as $156 million. Giving special access to powerful donors is the essence of corruption and dishonesty, contributing to an image that haunts Clintons to this day. Mrs. Clinton made a promise to separate her family foundation from her work at the State Department, but it is clear the foundation had numerous interactions with her top staff.

It is no surprise that even members of her own party are calling her to disband the foundation. Last week, the Clinton Foundation announced that it would not accept funds from foreign governments if Mrs. Clinton wins the presidency. But it’s a little too late. The damage has been done.

Mrs. Clinton has already received significant benefits and payouts from these foreign governments and entities — many from oppressive regimes. And while the Clinton Foundation will not accept the donations from foreign governments or corporations, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the largest arm of the foundation, will still receive foreign dollars. Chelsea Clinton will remain on the board foundation, which only deepens the perception problem that the foundation is a vehicle for influential power brokers to gain access to her parents.

Clinton surrogates are out in full force explaining the good works of the Clinton Foundation. Yet PolitiFact noted that “roughly 85 percent of the foundation’s spending was for items other than charitable grants to other organizations, and a large chunk of this 85 percent did go to Clinton Foundation staff for travel, salaries and benefits.”

It is difficult for the Clintons to argue that their foundation is saving millions of lives around the globe. The Clintons and their friends are the ones who have most benefited, making millions of dollars through the foundation’s complex web of business and political relationships.

It appears to have been an unspoken policy for the donors — give money to the family foundation and gain access for their own political and personal financial causes. This is the making of an ethical nightmare, the kind of thing Third World leaders are guilty of, yet so far Mrs. Clinton remains relatively unscathed. President Obama’s Department of Justice recently declined the FBI’s request to investigate the Clinton Foundation. And while the emails continue to trickle out and more damaging foundation abuses come to light, Mrs. Clinton will once again try to laugh her way out of her problems, hoping she can win the presidency in November and no one will notice.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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