Like Oregon’s ubiquitous banana slug, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of slime on everything she touches. I recognize that this is an unkind cut but the unbroken line of unethical conduct by Ms. Clinton well deserves the reference. And only recently we are treated once again to Ms. Clinton skirting the law by declining to use an official State Department email account while serving as Secretary and choosing instead to use a personal email account AND server so as to avoid transparency and control the retention and distribution of information contained therein.
It would take volumes to detail the many and routine acts of Ms. Clinton that raise questions on her legal and ethical conduct so let’s just highlight a few over her career.
Ms. Clinton worked on the Watergate committee early in her legal career. During the preparation for the impeachment (indictment) of President Nixon she advocated a theory that Mr. Nixon should be denied the right of counsel in the proceedings before the House of Representatives. There was no precedence in favor of her position and there was, in fact, previous decision in the House archives that directly contradicted her position. Ms. Clinton took and withheld those historical files in an effort to prevail – which she did not. Her conduct was so egregious that she was fired for unethical conduct and her then supervisor Jerome Zeifman declared that if that matter occurred before a judicial officer instead of Congress, Ms. Clinton would have been disbarred.
In 1978, while President Bill Clinton was serving as governor of Arkansas, Ms. Clinton turned a $1,000 investment into $100,000 virtually overnight with the assistance of James Blair, an attorney for Tyson Foods – the chicken food giant that had a significant amount of business before Mr. Clinton’s administration. There is no evidence that Ms. Clinton knew anything about commodity trading or that she ever made similar investments before OR AFTER the suspect windfall. The deal stinks as bad the cattle carcasses in which she allegedly speculated.
The Clintons were involved in a land speculation deal (Whitewater) in which allegations were made that the Clintons pressured lenders to provide financing to Jim and Susan McDougall (their partners) for the land development that subsequently failed. Jim and Susan McDougall went to prison as a result of fraud and Mr. Clinton’s successor as governor of Arkansas, Jim Guy Tucker, also went to prison as a part of the Whitewater investigation. Strangely only Mr. and Ms. Clinton avoided indictment, conviction and imprisonment – most likely because by then Mr. Clinton was the sitting President of the United States.
But once is never enough for Ms. Clinton. During the Congressional investigation of Whitewater several critical files involving the Clintons’ involvement disappeared from the Rose Law Firm (where Ms. Clinton had practiced and made partner while Mr. Clinton was governor) files. The files were never found and Ms. Clinton steadfastly denied any knowledge. And she continued to deny any knowledge even when the files suddenly appeared (conveniently after the investigation was over) on a table outside Ms. Clinton’s bedroom suite in the White House. (For point of reference, that table was approximately 1,000 miles from Little Rock, the site of the missing files previous location, and the only things the two locations had in common were Ms. Clinton – and a trail of slime.)
Ms. Clinton was thereafter elected to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate. Not that she was a resident of New York, or had ever been a resident of New York. It was simply that New York was a definitively Blue State and she was the wife of now former President Bill Clinton who continued as the standard bearer for his Democrat Party. During that period of time Ms. Clinton accomplished nothing of significance in the Senate. However, she and Mr. Clinton set up the family charitable foundation that began receiving millions of dollars from foreign governments in order to maintain or garner support from the Clintons. The foundation gave Ms. Clinton a virtual slush fund of money that she could dole out for travel, entertainment, and favors given and received. Because it was a charitable foundation and little of the money was used for overt lobbying, its revenue and expenditures passed with little scrutiny by the public.
Immediately, after completing her resume building service in the Senate, Ms. Clinton sought the Democrat nomination for president – she was the presumptive nominee because she was Mr. Clinton’s spouse. She lost. She lost to an upstart freshman senator from Chicago – Barack Obama. But Mr. Obama needed Mr. Clinton’s support in order to succeed in the general election. That was not an automatic. Mr. Obama, through his campaign, accused Mr. Clinton of “racism” – a tactic oft repeated since then by Mr. Obama. There was and is no love lost between the Obamas and the Clintons.
But a deal was needed and thus a deal was struck. Mr. Clinton would provide his valuable support and in turn Ms. Clinton would become Mr. Obama’s Secretary of State – more resume building. (Suffice it to say that these type of political artifices are the regular diet of politicians – Republican and Democrat alike – and while they are legal they reek of hypocrisy in instances where the parties put on a “happy face” to cover the bitterness of being forced into the deal.) As was the case in her Senate career Ms. Clinton accomplished nothing but miles of travel and photo ops moments.
And meanwhile foreign governments poured additional millions into the Clinton foundations for their discretionary use. Ms. Clinton, as Secretary of State, was in a position to dispense favors to those foreign governments and those instances are now being cataloged by a newly elected Republican Congress.
And finally, the latest revelation is that Ms. Clinton refused the use of a government email account at the State Department and instead chose to conduct all of the government business on her private email accounts. But there is a twist. Ms. Clinton not only used her private email accounts but also established a private server at her home in New York. In doing so she eliminated any government path to the content of those emails. She controlled the preservation of those emails absolutely and the country is now left in the unique position of relying on Ms. Clinton’s honesty as to which emails are private and which emails are government related. More importantly, we are left to rely on Ms. Clinton’s honesty as to whether emails have been destroyed and that she has disclosed all of them. You can search the world for reasons as to why Ms. Clinton would chose to forego a government email service in favor of a private email account and server, but there is only one that is credible. She sought to control access to information that might contradict her public positions or disclose her failures. And that brings us full circle to the reason that she was dismissed from the Watergate committee staff.
But now Ms. Clinton is vulnerable. Vulnerable to Mr. Obama who finds himself in the unique position of destroying her political future by simply telling the truth in unambiguous terms. Ms. Clinton may be about to learn that as Will Smith’s character stated in the movie Independence Day, “Payback’s a bitch.”
Remember, without Mr. Clinton, there would be no Hillary Clinton – no former First Lady, no former Senator from New York, no former Secretary of State and most assuredly no former and current candidate for the presidency. Given the literally hundreds of thousands of accomplished women in the United States who made it on their own, it is embarrassing to see Ms. Clinton put forward as the woman to demand that it is “our turn.”