- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s deep international ties are translating into cash this election cycle.

Since announcing her presidential bid last spring, the former first lady’s campaign has held at least 34 fundraisers in foreign countries, with another four on the schedule in the coming weeks, according to a tally from the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation. The events are part of the Clinton political machine’s broader fundraising effort, which is smashing virtually all records; she’s already held more fundraisers than President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney held in 2012 combined.

Her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has held no foreign fundraisers.

While there’s nothing illegal about holding such events — only U.S. citizens or green card holders living abroad can actually donate to White House campaigns — it’s clear Mrs. Clinton’s foreign connections, stemming from her time as U.S. senator and secretary of state, along with the family’s contacts through the Clinton Foundation, have greatly aided fundraising efforts. The events usually are headlined by prominent Clinton supporters and allow American citizens living abroad to attend and contribute to the Clinton campaign.

Campaign finance watchdogs say Mrs. Clinton is politically savvy to take advantage of her wealth of allies and supporters overseas in ways other candidates cannot.

“The volume of Clinton’s fundraisers is unprecedented.” said Drew Doggett, who tracks political fundraisers for the Sunlight Foundation. “We have not seen this tour de force, kind of exploring the bounds of how many fundraisers you can hold.”

In October, the Clinton campaign again will go on an extensive fundraising blitz abroad. The campaign plans events in Brussels on Oct. 3; Stockholm on Oct. 4; London on Oct. 5; and Dublin on Oct. 14. The Stockholm and London events will be headlined by Melanne Verveer, appointed by Mr. Obama in 2009 to be the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. Other former Obama administration officials also will headline foreign fundraisers next month.

The first international Clinton fundraiser came in the early summer of 2015, not long after Mrs. Clinton formally announced her second White House bid. The London event included a reception with famous singer Tony Bennett, and Clinton supporters paid up to $2,700 to attend.

Since then, Clinton backers such as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Indiana Sen, Evan Bayh, Clinton foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, along with Chelsea Clinton, have spoken at Clinton fundraisers abroad.

Clinton campaign treasurer Jose Villarreal also headlined at least two fundraisers in Mexico this year.

The events seemingly have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars — or perhaps much more — for the Clinton campaign, though it’s difficult to nail down an exact amount; it appears most of the ex-patriots who contributed at the foreign fundraisers used U.S. addresses when contributing.

She may be the best at it, but Mrs. Clinton surely isn’t the first candidate to tap into American citizens abroad for financial donations. Mr. Romney held at least two foreign fundraisers, both in London, during his failed 2012 presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama also held fundraisers in Paris and London.

But no one has come remotely close to the nearly three dozen overseas events held by the Clinton campaign. Analysts say that’s not only because the Clintons simply have more friends abroad, but also because the campaign is constantly searching for new funding streams on and off U.S. shores.

“It may speak to the Clinton’s fundraising prowess that they’re exploring every possible angle to vacuum up as many funds as possible,” said Brendan Fischer, associate counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization that works on campaign finance issues.

More broadly, Mrs. Clinton has taken campaign fundraising to previously unseen levels. So far this cycle, the Clinton campaign has held 658 fundraisers. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney held a combined 535 fundraisers during the 2012 campaign, according to Sunlight Foundation data.

Mr. Trump has held 59 formal fundraisers since announcing his candidacy last summer.

While the billionaire hasn’t tapped into Americans abroad for campaign cash, he did run into trouble earlier this year for allegedly soliciting donations from foreign nationals. The Campaign Legal Center and other watchdog groups in June filed complains with the FEC, saying the Trump campaign sought money from citizens of Iceland, Scotland, Britain and Australia.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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