- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton on Monday assailed Republican Donald Trump as a tax cheat, lumping the billionaire in with embattled mega-bank Wells Fargo and casting both as part of a “rigged system” that’s crushing the middle class and exploiting consumers.

At a rally in the battleground state of Ohio, the former first lady alternated between taking shots at her opponent and excoriating Wells Fargo, which is under siege after revelations company employees opened thousands of new accounts without customers’ permission and then collected on fees associated with those accounts.

Mrs. Clinton’s speech came just a day after the New York Times revealed Mr. Trump may have avoided paying any federal income taxes for nearly two decades after declaring a $918 million loss in the mid-1990s. While there’s no direct connection between Mr. Trump’s taxes and the actions of Wells Fargo, Mrs. Clinton linked the two, saying they’re both clear examples of the rich and powerful taking advantage of everyone else.

“It is outrageous that eight years after a cowboy culture on Wall Street wrecked our economy, we are still seeing powerful bankers playing fast and loose with the law,” she said of Wells Fargo, before turning her attention to Mr. Trump.

“And then in a category by himself there’s Donald Trump,” she continued. “It doesn’t look like he paid a dime of federal income tax in two decades … Trump represents the same rigged system he claims he’s going to change. The whole story tells us everything we need to know about how Trump does business.”

Mrs. Clinton added that Mr. Trump “was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill” by making huge profits for himself while writing off losses and paying no taxes.

But the Trump campaign quickly fired back, accusing Mrs. Clinton of blatant hypocrisy in her accusations against Wells Fargo. The Clinton campaign has accepted at least $258,351 in donations from employees of Wells Fargo, campaign finance records show, and the Clinton Foundation also has accepted between $1,000 and $5,000 from the bank’s community support campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s corporate ties have long been a thorn in her side politically, and have left many progressives skeptical of her ability and willingness to reform Wall Street. The former secretary of state also accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars for paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and has refused to release transcripts of those speeches.

Still, she maintains that she’s fully committed to taking on wealthy special interests, including those in the banking and corporate sectors.

“Today I want to send a clear message to every board room, every executive suite across America: If you scam your customers, exploit your employees, pollute our environment or rip off taxpayers, we will find ways to hold you accountable,” she said.

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