August 8, 2016

The Clinton Nexus Of Money And Power: Russia Edition

Hillary and Bill Clintons’ financial investments have involved dealings in a wide-range of countries, including those of ill repute. Accordingly, a recent report on the overlap between Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton’s speaking fees brought the Clintons’ nexus of money and power to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s doorstep.

The context for the newest development is Secretary Clinton’s failed reset with Russia. As part of her years-long effort to “help strengthen Russia” as Secretary of State, Clinton sought to help develop Russia’s own version of Silicon Valley, Skolkovo, just outside of Moscow. In fact, Secretary Clinton was so excited about the opportunity to build up Russia’s tech sector that she bragged about inviting then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley as a model in her book Hard Choices:

Over time, President Obama and President Medvedev developed a personal relationship that offered further opportunities for cooperation. At a long meeting I had with Medvedev outside Moscow in October 2009, he raised his plans to build a high-tech corridor in Russia modeled after our own Silicon Valley. When I suggested that he visit the original in California, he turned to his staff and told them to follow up. He included a stop there on his 2010 visit to the United States, and, by all accounts was impressed with what he saw.

In classic Clinton style, her close friends and allies benefitted from the new initiative. The report noted that her 2016 presidential campaign chairman John Podesta sat on a company board that benefitted handsomely from the initiative. Podesta, the report shows, joined the board of Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts energy company, and its Dutch controlling entity, Joule Global Stichting, in 2011. Only two months later, Joule Global Stichting received $35 million from a heavily Putin-linked entity, Rusnano, reportedly in part to build a research center in Russia. The report noted that “Podesta’s compensation by Joule cannot be fully determined,” but his failure to disclose his membership on the parent company’s board raises questions about the nature of his involvement with a major recipient of Russian government money.

The largesse did not stop with Secretary Clinton’s inner circle however. Her efforts to support the Russian Silicon Valley brought in many familiar names from the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s speaking circuit. Skolkovo’s website boasts partnership agreements with “Boeing, Cisco Systems, EADS, GE, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Siemens, Nokia, Samsung Etc.” Many of these companies have donated significantly to the Foundation, (Cisco, General Electric, and Microsoft have all donated between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation) and the report notes that 60 percent of the 28 “key partners” to Skolkovo either donated to the Clinton Foundation or paid Bill Clinton for a speech.

And while the companies who supported either the Clinton Foundation or the Clintons themselves through Bill’s paid speeches threw billions at Skolkovo, the Russian government unsurprisingly turned the new initiative to more nefarious purposes. In April 2014, the FBI wrote an op-ed warning that Skolkovo was likely a scheme to steal U.S. technology and put it toward Russia’s military modernization:

The Foundation has been reported to be a critical part of Medvedev’s plan to modernize the Russian economy, decrease dependency on oil revenue, create a more diversified economy based on high-technology and innovation and to completely renovate its military technology equipment and arsenal by 2020.

The FBI report further highlighted Skolkovo’s ties to corruption, reporting that Russia’s own government fined over 200 managers at the tech city for the misuse and embezzlement of $1.5 million in government funds.

As per usual, Secretary Clinton leveraged her position of power and influence to pursue failed policies and push her corporate supporters into dangerous foreign investments. Her mission to help build a Russian Silicon Valley provided Vladimir Putin with knowledge and know-how to pursue the modernization of his military with American technology. The U.S. now must deal with the consequences of her failed and foolish initiatives.