At this year’s White House Correspondents Association Dinner, after President Obama’s remarks on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to gain funds for her 2016 Presidential Race, the president’s anger translator Luther, a character originated and played by comedian Keegan-Michael Key on the sketch show “Key and Peele,” had one thing to say: “She gonna get that money, she gonna get all the money… Khaleesi is coming to Westeros!”
Luther’s words summarized the controversy that has been brewing lately surrounding the source behind Clinton’s funding for the presidential campaign.
This controversy boiled to flash point just days before the association dinner, when HarperCollins announced their plans to publish Clinton Cash, a 186-page book investigating the donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities, written by author and political correspondent Peter Schweizer. Several news agencies, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News, were given advanced copies of the book under the agreement that they will pursue in greater detail the stories covered within the pages. Following the announcement of Clinton Cash, a huge debacle began throughout the news media centered on whether or not the book revealed a black chapter of yet another Clinton or was just a normal part of the political conduct, blown out of proportion by Schweizer.
According to The New York Times and the news agencies that received the book in advance, there are various examples of Hillary working in cahoots with different organizations in exchange for massive donations. One such example touched on a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation’s development projects in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The book also detailed the more than one million dollars in payments to Ms. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
But what does all this suggest? When we take a look across the aisle, money is still an incredibly important asset and resource for Republican campaigns. The Guardian pointed out the extensive ties Jeb Bush and the Bush family have to the energy industry, with former president George H.W. Bush having made his fortune in oil wildcatting. These same connections that funded former president George W. Bush’s personal failed energy companies now extend to Jeb Bush as well. The New York Times also reported that Ted Cruz gained the financial backing of Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of hedge fund magnate, Renaissance Technologies. According to Politico, Rand Paul has turned to the billionaire venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Napster’s billionaire co-founder Sean Parker, in his own attempts to garner campaign funds.
Gathering funding for a political race is not an action that is technically illegal, and has been done by politicians for years. Furthermore, as reported by Newsweek, Schweizer did not attempt to prove any laws were broken in Clinton Cash. In fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: “I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.”
Will Clinton Cash cause some degree of backlash towards Clinton and her campaign? Most likely, yes. However, although the book is aimed at just the Clinton family, the information presented sheds light on the common practice employed by politicians, regardless of party, during campaigns: giving companies and donors what they need in return for funding. Because of its discussion on this practice, Clinton Cash is poised to become a hard-hitting investigative piece on the unsavory ways politicians receive money. But as Taylor Wafforf wrote in Newsweek, “throwing up a bunch of dots and not connecting them isn’t great judgement either.”
As such, it will be up to the readers to choose whether to take the book as a surface level attack at the Clintons, or as a piece of solid investigative journalism.
Sam Pattinasarane ’18 email@example.com is from Jakarta, Indonesia. He majors in political science and Asian studies.