WaPo editorial rebuts itself so we don't have to

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Under the suggestive headline "Quid Pro Clinton?" today's Washington Post gravely editorializes about former President Clinton's fundraising on behalf of his charitable foundation:

What has always been worrisome is that such prodigious fundraising could set up the potential of someone looking to curry favor with Ms. Clinton by making a sizable donation to Mr. Clinton's organization. Even the appearance of a conflict could call into question the motives of both Clintons and the donor.

A prime example emerged this week as a result of Mr. Clinton disclosing his contributors as part of an agreement with Mr. Obama that smoothed Ms. Clinton's nomination.

Sounds ominous, doesn't it?

But in describing the "prime example," the Post essentially rebuts itself, saving us the trouble:

The New York Times reported Sunday that upstate New York developer Robert J. Congel gave $100,000 to Mr. Clinton's foundation in November 2004, one month after enactment of a law, first supported by Ms. Clinton in 2000, that gave Mr. Congel access to tax-exempt "green bonds" to build the Destiny USA shopping complex in Syracuse. Nine months later Ms. Clinton secured $5 million in funding for road construction at the complex. We hasten to point out that Ms. Clinton was joined by other members of the New York delegation in urging passage of both bills, including the state's senior senator, Charles E. Schumer (D). [Emphasis added]

Got that? Hillary Clinton has supported a law giving Congel access to bonds to build a shopping complex in Syracuse since 2000. Other members of the New York delegation joined her in supporting the the complex. In 2004 -- four years after Clinton began supporting the law -- Congel gave $100,000 to Bill Clinton's foundation.

And in that, the Washington Post sees a "prime example" of the "appearance of a conflict" that could call both Clintons' motives into question.

The Post would have us believe that in 2000, Hillary Clinton supported a law in hopes that four years later a developer would make a contribution to her husband's foundation that would account for about two one-hundredths of one percent of the foundation's total fundraising. If that's a quid pro quo, it's a spectacularly unambitious one.

"While Mr. Clinton's fundraising has been an appearance of a conflict waiting to happen with his wife a senator, it will only get worse and more troublesome once Ms. Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state," the Post concludes. This, at least, is hard to argue with: If the Congel donation is the most troublesome thing the Post can find, it's certainly hard to imagine the situation getting less troublesome.

UPDATE: According to this New York Times article by Charlie Savage, Clinton did not support the "green bonds" in 2000, she supported "other tax breaks for a Carousel mall expansion to create jobs" that year. That doesn't change the point of this post; the Washington Post thinks Clinton supported the green bonds in 2000, and that constitutes a conflict because of Congel's contribution four years later.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
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