Monday, April 27, 2015

They're Gonna Need a Bigger Swiftboat

What to call it? A lame "scandal" deserves an equally lame name, so let's go with Donategate. And it sure looks like it's already flaming out after about a week...not even as long as the similarly impotent Emailgate. So let's take a quick look back at the brief sordid history of Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash before getting to some recent updates which further suggest that end is nigh for this nonsense before it's even released to the public.

On April 19th, the New York Times excitedly published a preview of a book that appeared to be big news because Rand Paul thought was "big news". Yes, that was the exact quote from their opening paragraph. Terrifying, right? Not really, because it took just one day for Media Matters for America to annihilate the author as a right-wing hack writer with a highly-questionable past riddled with errors and retractions. Shortly thereafter, ABC News found errors in the new book.

A few days later, on April 23rd, the NYT published their big "exclusive" story on Uranium One... but that was followed-up very quickly with a piece by the paper's very own public editor expressing great concern about the "troubling" nature of their arrangement with Schweizer. Oh yeah, and they also managed to leave a few really important and relevant facts out of the story altogether. (Note: this sort of thing is unfortunately no longer surprising from this once-reputable purveyor of actual journalism.)

In the midst of their otherwise long-winded insinuation salad about Donategate, here is the only area that seemed like a solid, fact-based accusation of...something.
Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.
Oversight? Reporting error? Bill and Hillary nefariously whispering into the ear of an accountant to 'make this generous charitable donation go away'? The article provides no answer, adding that "the foundation did not provide a response."

Until now. On Sunday, we got the answer directly from the Clinton Foundation and it certainly sounds legit...if complicated.
The Foundation has 11 different initiatives, some of which function in organizationally different ways. One of these 11 initiatives is the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), which is focused on advancing innovative solutions to poverty alleviation on a global scale. CGEP has come under heightened scrutiny this past week and I want to explain how it operates.
The Clinton Foundation executes all of the work that CGEP does. CGEP does receive financial backing for projects from an independent Canadian charity called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada), which Frank Giustra established so that Canadians could support the initiative’s valuable work and receive a charitable tax credit. CGEP (Canada) provides funding on a project-by-project basis and this money goes exclusively to CGEP projects, not to the Foundation’s general operating fund.
Like every contributor to the Foundation, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) is publicly listed as a donor on our website. But as it is a distinct Canadian organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation, its individual donors are not listed on the site. This is hardly an effort on our part to avoid transparency – unlike in the U.S., under Canadian law; all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors without prior permission from each donor.
So, after about a week of heavy breathing in the news media, what exactly does Donategate have to show for itself? A ton of circumstantial innuendo by an unreliable right-wing hack that's only managed to expose some vagueness about donations to a Canadian charity. Also, a popular ex-president sometimes gives paid speeches.

How lame is it? So much so that when Chris Wallace confronted Schweizer on Fox News Sunday with the fact that he didn't have "a single piece of evidence" of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, the author kept nodding full agreement!

It's pretty obvious what Donategate and the late-and-not-so-great Emailgate are really about: Hillary Clinton holds a huge lead over the Republicans and is a strong favorite to win in 2016. The GOP's only shot at a narrow victory? Turning her and her husband's highly-acclaimed recent accomplishments (Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation, respectively) into liabilities with the help of our bored news media. This famous strategy worked on a Vietnam War hero in 2004, so they think it might just work again in 2016.

Good luck with that. When it comes to the Clintons, they're gonna need a bigger swiftboat.

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