Sigh. Yet Another Non-Scandal at the Clinton Foundation

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Here is Politico today:

Bill Clinton aides used tax dollars to subsidize foundation, private email support

Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

This investigation, which is based on records obtained from the General Services Administration through the Freedom of Information Act, does not reveal anything illegal. But it does offer fresh evidence of how the Clintons blurred the line between their nonprofit foundation, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and the business dealings of Bill Clinton and the couple’s aides.

Sounds shady! Let’s count the paragraphs until we get to an actual concrete description of what this is all about. Here we go: 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… 11… 12… 13… 14… 15… 16… 17… 18… 19… 20… 21… 22… 23… 24… Bingo:

According to several people familiar with the former president’s operation, the rationale behind the interwoven payrolls is that they allow for a small team to assist Clinton in a variety of settings without having to do logistically complicated hockey-like line changes. In a given day, Clinton might deliver a paid private speech (during which time his employees’ salaries could be paid by the executive services corporation) and a public speech in his capacity as a former president (during which his staff could be paid by the GSA funds). And he could attend events for the foundation (where staff time would be paid by the foundation) as well as his wife’s presidential campaign (staff time would be paid by the campaign).

….A GSA spokesperson declined to comment on specific employees, but said ex-presidents have broad discretion over how they choose to divvy up the $96,600 they are provided each year for staffing. They can give the entire sum to a single employee or divide it among multiple employees.

So Clinton gets the princely sum of $96,600 each year for staff, and tracks the work these staffers do in his capacity as ex-president. He bills the GSA for that work, and bills other organizations when the staff does work for them. This is bog standard stuff. Staff time is tracked, and then charged out. This is not just “not illegal,” it’s the way pretty much any similar kind of operation works. Even me. Mother Jones pays me an annual salary, but if I write an op-ed or something, I bill that time to whoever I wrote the op-ed for.

Go ahead and read the whole thing. There’s really nothing even remotely blurry or scandalous or shady or anything else. It’s just the standard way anyone operates who has multiple interests, multiple funding sources, and staffers who do work for multiple organizations. There’s no hint that any of the charges were incorrect, or that any of the purchases were misallocated. As near as I can tell, it was all entirely above board, and the GSA was actively involved in scrutinizing everything.

Basically, the reason for headlines like this is because Bill Clinton decided after his presidency to set up a large and active foundation that raised a ton of money for exceptionally worthy causes around the world. If he had decided to just lounge around instead, none of this would ever have come up. It’s a little hard to believe that he’s getting so much grief for this.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate