A new Clinton presidency would bring about a new batch of ethical issues and uncomfortable situations for all of us to deal with. And given that we have enough problems on our plate, do we really need to add to them?
Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton have built a sprawling network of powerful friends around the globe, one that could aid Mrs. Clinton’s chances were she to seek the presidency. But those relationships often come with intersecting interests and political complications; few people illustrate that more vividly than the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.
A steel magnate and major contributor to the former president’s foundation, Mr. Pinchuk was in frequent contact with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, at meetings arranged by a Clinton political operative turned lobbyist, Douglas E. Schoen.
And now Mr. Pinchuk is at the center of a trade dispute that places him at odds with steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, precisely the kind of union workers Mrs. Clinton would need to appeal to in a presidential campaign.
Mr. Pinchuk’s relationship to the Clintons became the subject of scrutiny last summer when American steel makers filed a case alleging that Ukraine — and by extension Mr. Pinchuk’s company, Interpipe Ltd. — and eight other countries had illegally dumped a type of steel tube used in natural gas extraction, an industry whose growth has provided one of the few bright spots in the United States manufacturing sector.
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Spokesmen for the Clintons declined to comment on the relationship. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said that from Jan. 21, 2009, to Feb. 1, 2013, her entire tenure as secretary of state, Mr. Pinchuk was never on her schedule.
Mr. Pinchuk, 53, is one of Ukraine’s only oligarchs to have deep ties to Washington. Many of the country’s richest businessmen are suspected of having links to organized crime and do not have visas to the United States, much less a relationship with a former and potentially future American president.
Still, Mr. Pinchuk’s image is not without blemish: His father-in-law is Leonid Kuchma, who was president of Ukraine from 1994 to 2005 and led a government criticized for corruption, nepotism and the murder of dissident journalists. As president, Mr. Kuchma privatized a huge state steel factory and sold it to Mr. Pinchuk’s consortium for about $800 million, which competitors said was a laughably low price.
Since 2006, Mr. Pinchuk has donated roughly $13.1 million to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Mr. Clinton attends Mr. Pinchuk’s annual conferences in the resort city of Yalta, Ukraine, and Mr. Pinchuk attended the former president’s 65th birthday party in Los Angeles.
I can understand why the State Department may have had to deal with oligarchs from foreign countries. I can’t understand why the Clintons think that befriending oligarchs from foreign countries and seeking donations from them to the Clinton Foundation makes for good politics, or does not constitute a massive conflict of interest.