If I were crazy enough to run for president of the United States, I wouldn’t allow foreign donors to be perceived as being able to buy access to my potential administration:
The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency.
Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.
In 2009, the Clinton Foundation stopped raising money from foreign governments after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state. Former President Bill Clinton, who ran the foundation while his wife was at the State Department, agreed to the gift ban at the behest of the Obama administration, which worried about a secretary of state’s husband raising millions while she represented U.S. interests abroad.
The ban wasn’t absolute; some foreign government donations were permitted for ongoing programs approved by State Department ethics officials.
The donations come as Mrs. Clinton prepares for an expected run for the Democratic nomination for president, and they raise many of the same ethical quandaries. Since leaving the State Department in early 2013, Mrs. Clinton officially joined the foundation, which changed its name to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, and has become a prodigious fundraiser as the foundation launched a $250 million endowment campaign, officials said.
Of course, the donors in question are not giving money out of the goodness of their own hearts. They are giving money because they hope and expect that by giving money, they will be able to gain influence in any future Clinton administration. Remember all of the claims that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling would allow foreigners to buy American elections? That claim was always nonsensical, but the exact scenario is playing itself out in this case.
I would expect Democrats who are critics of the Citizens United ruling–even though the overwhelming majority of them don’t seem to understand it–to be similarly upset that access to a future Clinton White House is being bought and paid for by foreign donations. Thus far, however, I have heard crickets from other Democrats regarding this particular issue. It must be campaign season; the air is thick with hypocrisy.