Given Hillary Clinton’s practically unchallenged drive to win her party’s nomination for president in 2016, it’s no surprise that her campaign balloon is the target of nonstop verbal darts from Republicans aimed at puncturing her glide to next year’s Democratic national convention.
But Democrats shouldn’t feel smug, or safe. Not so long ago, her most ardent supporters were boasting that with Clinton, voters had nothing to worry about in terms of skeletons in the closet. She’d been investigated time and again during her more than two decades as first lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state, they said. Ergo, no more embarrassing secrets left to reveal.
Then came the disclosure that she failed to use the official State Department email system to communicate during her tenure as the nation’s chief diplomat. Oops. And now there are yet more questions involving her and her husband’s activities, and the role of the Clinton Foundation in raising large sums of money, much of it from foreign sources with troublesome political connections.
To be clear, we’re not talking about the phony issue of her role in the attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. Congressional and government investigations into the 2012 attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans failed to support charges by some Republicans that mismanagement by then-Secretary of State Clinton precipitated the tragedy.
It should be a closed issue. Intent on beating a dead horse, however, Speaker John Boehner last year named yet another committee to look into the incident, giving it a mandate that conveniently stretches into the election season. As Democrats rightly point out, the committee’s inquiry puts Congress on track to investigate Benghazi longer than lawmakers of an earlier era spent investigating the JFK assassination, Watergate or the 9/11 attacks.
Most voters are likely to see through the partisan nature of this gambit. But there are other questions that cannot be dismissed so easily. Mostly this has to do with money and the questionable connections of the Clinton Foundation, the extraordinary speaking fees that she and Bill Clinton have earned out of office, and the dodgy sources of some of those funds.
Take, for example, a report in the New York Times that people involved with a Canadian company called Uranium One channeled money to the Clinton Foundation while the firm had business before the State Department. The money was not properly disclosed. Aides to Bill Clinton reportedly helped start a Canadian charity that shielded the identities of donors who gave more than $33 million to his foundation, despite a pledge of transparency when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.
Even worse: A Russian investment bank connected to the deals paid a $500,000 speaker’s fee to Bill Clinton amid the process.
Hillary Clinton, her supporters will claim, cannot be held responsible for all of her husband’s activities. Nor is there evidence or a “smoking gun” to show any wrongdoing on her part. But surely she must see the suspicions all of this raises. Unless she does more to persuade the American people that her hands are clean and that she has no irrevocable ties or obligations to foreign donors, those suspicions will linger throughout the campaign.