April 14, 2014

WAPO Front Page Showcases Clinton Pay-To-Play Fundraising

Hillary-Shady-Deals

The Washington Post reports on the seedy pay-to-play fundraising practices of Hillary Clinton’s State Department as she helped a company skirt ethics rules and donate to a pet project of her Department’s and her family foundation. Or as one former State Department official put it: “Things were done … that were not done in any other instance for fundraising purposes.”

Openly calling her efforts a “shameless pitch” for Boeing, Clinton secured a multi-billion dollar deal with a state-owned enterprise in Vladimir Putin’s Russia in exchange for a $2 million contribution to the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, an event that had become of special interest to Clinton and that the company had previously been barred from donating to under conflicts of interest rules. Following the deal in 2010, Boeing made a $900,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation.

On a trip to Moscow early in her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton played the role of international saleswoman, pressing Russian government officials to sign a multibillion-dollar deal to buy dozens of aircraft from Boeing.

A month later, Clinton was in China, where she jubilantly announced that the aerospace giant would be writing a generous check to help resuscitate floundering U.S. efforts to host a pavilion at the upcoming World’s Fair.

Boeing, she said, “has just agreed to double its contribution to $2 million.”

Clinton did not point out that, to secure the donation, the State Department had set aside ethics guidelines that first prohibited solicitations of Boeing and then later permitted only a $1 million gift from the company. Boeing had been included on a list of firms to be avoided because of its frequent reliance on the government for help negotiating overseas business and concern that a donation could be seen as an attempt to curry favor with U.S. officials. …

Boeing’s largesse on behalf of the U.S. pavilion at the Shanghai expo was helpful to Clinton at a critical moment as she made it her priority to woo support from corporations to revive the American presence at the event. …

In 2010, two months after Boeing won its $3.7 billion Russia deal, the company announced a $900,000 contribution to the William J. Clinton Foundation intended to rebuild schools in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. …

The company’s ties came into play again this month when its in-house lobbyist, former Bill Clinton aide Tim Keating, co-hosted a fundraiser for Ready for Hillary, the super PAC backing her potential presidential run. …

“This is a shameless pitch for Rosavia . . . to buy Boeing aircraft,” she said while touring a Boeing facility in Moscow.

[USA Pavilion President Nick] Winslow said he initially submitted a list in 2008 of about 140 companies he hoped to approach for money, including Boeing.

But State Department officials ruled out soliciting Boeing and other large firms with significant business relationships with the government. …

Agency lawyers had nixed Boeing out of concern that the department’s work lobbying for the company’s interests overseas could present the appearance of a conflict of interest, said a former agency official familiar with the decision. …

An appeal from Winslow and others involved in the project resulted in a new ruling in Boeing’s case: Since there was no direct conflict of interest, the expo could accept a donation from the company, but only up to $1 million. The goal was to ensure that Boeing did not dominate the event, the former official said. …

The announcement that Boeing would give $2 million rather than the $1 million maximum that had been set was made by Clinton on Nov. 16, 2009, as she toured the pavilion site. Earlier the same day, she visited a Boeing hangar in Shanghai and addressed executives from Boeing and other companies to stress the importance of the project.

How the decision was made to raise the cap remains a mystery, at least in public.

Neither Winslow nor Lavin, nor a number of other officials whose involvement with the expo pre-dated Clinton’s involvement, recalled the decision.

Said one former official: “Things were done for the pavilion that were not done in any other instance for fundraising purposes.”

Merrill, the Clinton spokesman, said support from Boeing and other corporations was sought only because it was important for the success of the event. “Suggesting otherwise would be like saying that encouraging Pizza Hut’s sponsorship was done in an effort to get free pizza,” he said.