Clinton Foundation Fueled By Blood Money
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
When President-elect Barack Obama nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton for secretary of state, the Clintons agreed to release the donor lists of the Clinton Foundation, the global charity created by former President Bill Clinton. The Clintons agreed to air their dirty laundry in a deal with the new Obama administration, as Secretary Clinton tries to clean up the smoldering diplomatic wreckage of the Bush years.
The donor list is extremely revealing, and not only for being what the Wall Street Journal called "a who's who of some of the world's wealthiest people." The list also shows that the foundation is funded by the people, governments and companies that help create the problems the charity seeks to address.
Take development. The foundation prioritizes charitable giving and economic development and recently began an initiative to encourage philanthropy in the Mideast and Africa. But one of the foundation's biggest donors, giving in excess of $10 million, is the monarchy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to the kingdom itself, rich Saudis and the group Friends of Saudi Arabia gave several million more. The royal family of Saudi Arabia is reaching out to the struggling masses of the Middle East. But with a blindfold.
BusinessWeek recently reported that "Saudi censorship is considered among the most restrictive in the world Â… -- the country blocks broad swaths of the Internet, from pornographic Web sites to calls for the overthrow of the government." And Saudi subjects may have reason to throw out their royal family, such as the 2007 ruling by the Justice Ministry that sentenced a gang-rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in prison. The woman had been in a car with an unrelated man prior to the rape and had appealed her original 90-lash sentence, leading the court to increase it and add a jail term "because of her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."
But conditions can't be that bad. King Fahd finally approved a Saudi human rights "watchdog," but with members chosen only by the government, after having withheld approval for a citizen group to organize one. The business media describe the chance that the rights group would "openly embarrass" the monarchy as "unlikely."
So the royal family, having a guilty conscience, relaxes by plowing a few 10 million bucks from its oil fortune into the Clinton Foundation, which accepts it in part to fund programs for the monarchy's own impoverished subjects. If the royal family really felt generous, they could give their subjects the vote.
Or consider Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel magnate whose global conglomerate Arcelor-Mittal produces 10 percent of world steel output. Mittal built his industrial empire buying old plants and government sell-offs with the view that becoming large and powerful was the key to heavyweight profits.
The plan, according to Businessweek, was to grow "big enough to negotiate on an equal footing with suppliers of iron ore and coal and with customers such as automakers. In the long run, Lakshmi's vision is an industry dominated by a handful of powerful companies, strong enough to cut output rather than prices in a downturn."
This is what economists call an oligopoly, and it doesn't have much to do with the major Clinton Foundation goal of expanding economic opportunity. Once companies become large, they gain advantages against competitors. Mittal says, "as we are becoming more global,Â… we are able to reduce our costs on a global basis. Like purchasing Â…-- [we] aggregate our demand. We are able to have stronger muscle power to negotiate with our suppliers."