Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Tale of Two Family Foundations

Guess which one the media is interested in:

A. Family Foundation A has done nothing wrong. They've been above board in terms of transparency of the organization, of donors, etc.

B. Family Foundation B has an owner who puts none of their personal money into it and used it a few years ago to get an Attorney General investigating their business interests to stop and desist. This AG, Pam Bondi of Florida did just that.

If you answered B, you are premature. You need more information to answer this question. Here is the relevant factor:

C. Foundation A is the Clinton's Foundation. Now you know without a doubt the answer is A, The media couldn't care less what Foundation B has been up to especially as the owner just happens to be Hillary Clinton's opponent.

Paul Waldman:

"Whenever some new piece of information emerges about Hillary Clinton or people close to her, we’re told that it “raises questions” of some kind, which means it’s being shoehorned into a larger narrative that says something fundamental about her: That she’s tainted by scandal, or corrupt, or just sinister in ways people can never quite put their finger on."

"Yet somehow, stories about Donald Trump that don’t have to do with the latest appalling thing that came out of his mouth don’t “raise questions” in the same way. They’re here and then they’re gone, obliterated by his own behavior without going deep into question-raising territory."

The NY Times did a big piece on how this raises questions:

"A top aide to Hillary Clinton at the State Department agreed to try to obtain a special diplomatic passport for an adviser to former President Bill Clinton in 2009, according to emails released Thursday, raising new questions about whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at the department."

"The request by the adviser, Douglas J. Band, who started one arm of the Clintons’ charitable foundation, was unusual, and the State Department never issued the passport. Only department employees and others with diplomatic status are eligible for the special passports, which help envoys facilitate travel, officials said."

"Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign said that there was nothing untoward about the request and that it related to an emergency trip that Mr. Clinton took to North Korea in 2009 to negotiate the release of two American journalists. Mrs. Clinton has long denied that donors had any special influence at the State Department."

"So this 'raises new questions about special access' when Douglas Band didn't get his special passport. It's amazing, It's like watching the cashier all night seeing them not steal from the till and concluding that 'This raises questions.'

It raises questions? Actually it answers them: there was no favor trading. 

Meanwhile there's the Trump Foundation:

"In 2013, Bondi’s office received multiple complaints from Floridians who said they had been cheated out of thousands of dollars by a fraudulent operation called Trump University. While Bondi’s office was looking into the claims to determine if they should join New York State’s lawsuit against Trump University, Bondi called Donald Trump and asked him for a contribution to her PAC."

"Now let’s pause for a moment to savor the idea that Bondi, the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the state, would solicit a contribution from someone her office was in the process of investigating. She did solicit that contribution, and Donald Trump came through with $25,000."

"Thought experiment: what if this was Hillary's conduct? I mean, the media had a cow when Bill happened to bump into Loretta Lynch at a Colorado airport. It's as if Lynch asked for and received $25,000 from the Clintons and then shut down the DOJ investigation."


"Or actually, his foundation paid Bondi’s PAC the $25,000, which is an illegal contribution. Trump’s people say this was just a clerical error, and Trump himself reimbursed the foundation — that’s what the IRS fine was about. But days before getting the check, Bondi’s office announced that they were considering whether to go after Trump University, and not long after the check was cashed, they decided to drop the whole thing."

David Fahrenthold:

"On Thursday, Jeffrey McConney — senior vice president and controller at the Trump Organization — said that after being notified, Trump filed paperwork informing the IRS of the political gift and paid an excise tax equal to 10 percent of its value."

"McConney said that Trump had also personally reimbursed the Trump Foundation for $25,000, covering the full value of the improper gift. McConney blamed a series of mistakes, all of them unintentional. McConney said there had been no attempt to deceive."

"It was just an honest mistake," McConney said. He added: "It wasn’t done intentionally to hide a political donation, it was just an error."

Just a clerical error. I'm sure if Hillary said this, all questions would be answered, none more would be 'raised.'

"Trump started the Donald J. Trump Foundation in the late 1980s, to give away proceeds from his book, "The Art of the Deal." He remains the foundation's president, but — in recent years — Trump has stopped putting his own money into its coffers. Tax records show no gifts from Trump himself to the foundation since 1988; it has instead received donations from a smattering of Trump's friends and business associates."

Trump's last significant donation? To the Clinton Foundation, 2009.

Fahrenthold notes:

"I've now called 313 charities in my search for proof @realDonaldTrump gives his own money away. Not much luck lately."

Eric Boehlert responds:

"context: Clinton gave $4M to charity--in just the last two years."

Of course, this is not a problem for Trump. The media doesn't see what public interest is served in holding him accountable. If he can read effectively from a teleprompter that is sufficient.

Hillary on the other hand must submit to a relentless full cavity search. If she failed somewhere to dot a single i or cross a single t it leads to a whole new slew of 'questions.'


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