Suppose you discovered your doctor runs a charity on the side. The charity gives away some money, but it spends most of its money on things that help the doctor, often financially.
How is the charity funded? Contributions from drug companies. They want the doc to prescribe their drugs. Contributions from specialists. They want the doc to refer patients to them.
Any problem with this arrangement?
Suppose you own a business. You learn your buyer has a Christmas Fund. The fund gives some money to good causes, but spends most of its money on salaries for the buyer’s family.
How is the fund financed? Money from suppliers that sell stuff to your company. Or want to. Stuff your buyer decides to buy. Or not.
Does this sound OK to you?
Suppose your local school superintendent has a similar fund. Its money comes from businesses that sell supplies to the school and from consultants the school district hires. The fund employs relatives of the superintendent.
And suppose several of those suppliers pay your superintendent big bucks to speak to their business associations. Looks like a lotta quid pro quo.
Do you have any problems with this?
Suppose the highway superintendent of your town has a charity on the side funded by companies that sell gravel and blacktop and trucks to your town. They kick in thousands to the charity. The charity doles out money to community groups favored by the superintendent. Especially just before elections.
Does this bother you?
Suppose the mayor of your city has such a charity. If you live in a big city, he or she probably does. Ahhh. Well. Gollee gee.
The chair of the Democratic National Committee made a revealing remark this week about people sinking money into the Clinton Foundation and then seeking meetings and special treatment from Hillary at the State Department. This is no big deal, she said. It is normal behavior in Washington. She said of critics “We often criminalize behavior that is normal.”
Let’s be fair. That thought could just as easily have come from the head of the Republican Committee.
And that is the problem. Buying influence IS normal in Washington. Buying favors IS normal. To those who take the money and dole out the favors. Normal.
What has happened is the opposite of what the chair claimed. Washington politicians have normalized what is criminal behavior. And that disturbs millions of Americans. It makes them want to retch when the subject of Washington politics comes up.
Many in Washington see nothing wrong in this. You pays your money. You gets your favors. They see nothing wrong with the Secretary of State’s top assistant drawing a paycheck from the Clinton’s charity. A charity where you pays your money and gets your favors. From the Secretary of State.
They see nothing wrong with Bill Clinton asking foreigners right now to contribute to the foundation. Foreigners who may well be seeking favors from his wife if she becomes president. Situation normal.
I wonder whether the Clintons would have any problems if the superintendent of Chappaqua schools ran a slush fund.
I wonder too if the highway commissioner would justify his slush fund. By saying “Hey, I am just doing what our leaders in Washington do.”
Some now tell us “Don’t worry. Yes, this happened at a lower level. But it would never happen in the White House.”
Sorry. It already did. People like Denise Rich poured $450,000 into the Clinton Foundation and over $1 million to Democratic campaigns. And slept many a night in the White House. And President Bill Clinton then granted a pardon to her ex, Marc Rich.
Rich was a disgusting crook and fugitive. After the pardon his partners, lawyers, advisers and friends showered more millions upon the Clintons.
Democrat Congressman Barney Frank called the pardon “Contemptuous.”
Do you have any problem with this stuff?
Tom Morgan is a veteran columnist whose column appears weekly in the Observer-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.