Financial skeletons could rattle a Hillary presidential run
Hillary Clinton should adamantly avoid the topic of personal finances if she ever wants to become president. She’s got so much financial baggage that the White House closets just wouldn’t be big enough.New York Post
Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices,” came out this week, presumably as a way to unofficially launch her presidential campaign for 2016.
And despite a storied political career — with ample controversies — almost all of the book tour’s publicity has focused on Hillary’s claim that she and her husband, President Bill, were flat broke when they left the White House in 2000.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” the former senator and secretary of state told ABC News in one of her book interviews. The family, she added, “struggled” to make ends meet.
As they say, “No kiddin’!”
That’s what happens when you behave badly, do illegal stuff and need the help of an army of lawyers equipped with the Jaws of Life to extricate your reputation.
Bill, of course, was responsible for most of the financial woes. Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky were extremely expensive distractions for a president who should have been spending much more time concentrating on an economy that was starting to sour by the time his impeachment hearings began.
But Lewinsky, in a sense, was also the salvation for the Clinton family.
Without the clueless intern, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t even be thinking of being president today. In fact, Mrs. Clinton likely would never have served in the Senate or the Obama cabinet if not for Lewinsky.
Back in the late ’90s, I spent a lot of time investigating the Clintons’ alleged misdeeds.
My quest involved several trips to Arkansas, where the Clintons’ detractors were more than happy to direct me or any other reporter down a money trail that led to the governor’s residence.
Because of the focus of my columns, my attention wasn’t diverted by Lewinsky, like what happened to federal prosecutors and Congress.
I wasn’t giggling over the tales of the Clintons’ sexual antics. (Yes, both the Clintons.) I was following the money, even when Special Prosecutor Ken Starr veered off that trail and got bogged down in sleaze, which allowed Hillary to have a political career post-first lady.
And while the Clintons never got rich from their Arkansas antics, there is every indication that they were repeatedly getting special favors from the rich folks of that state.
I remember uncovering, for instance, one particular real estate transaction in which then-state Attorney General Bill Clinton and the Mrs. were beneficiaries of a house flip even though they hadn’t put any money up for the property.
As I remember it, the profit was only in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. Not big money, but it was close to what Bill Clinton was pulling down as Arkansas attorney general at the time.
This was important because it seems to be Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first trip to the dark side.
And that real estate deal led to bigger things, especially the now-infamous Whitewater Development, in which the Clintons were partners. And then Flowerwood Farms, another real estate development whose accounting somehow became entangled with Whitewater’s even though the two projects had different sets of owners.
It goes on and on. Most of this stuff is now too old to prosecute. And maybe even too small by today’s post-Madoff standards.
But none of the Arkansas doings is too old to bring up in a presidential political campaign.
And many of the people involved are still around.
The Clintons lucked out back then when their Whitewater partner Jim McDougal suddenly dropped dead before he could testify against them. But there are lots of people still alive and, presumably, plenty of files from the Starr investigation that are sitting in people’s basements.
I bet a lot of the investigation is even available to the public through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Starr is now a professor at Baylor. Hickman Ewing, Starr’s deputy and the Whitewater case’s most aggressive prosecutor, is now a private lawyer in Memphis, Tenn.
Most of the other players in Hillary and Bill’s financial lives are probably still stuck in Arkansas, just itching for someone to ask them about old times.
Back on Aug. 20, 1999, I wrote a column with the headline “Ken Starr Has A Few Questions for Hillary Clinton.” That column read, “I have an internal document from the Starr investigation labeled ‘Whitewater — Potential Questions.’ It’s a list of matters that Starr wanted Hillary Clinton to clarify under oath.”
First question was: “You and the President received a 50 percent interest in the Whitewater development but you didn’t invest nearly as much as the McDougals did, did you? Why did Jim McDougal give you this special deal? Do you think he expected anything in return?”
My question today is: Does Hillary really want to make herself out to be regular folk with financial problems when there is so much evidence that she isn’t?
I think the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, in a primary election this week to a nobody proves one thing: Voters are tired of the usual games that go on in Washington, no matter the party.
And Hillary Clinton has been a political player — both in Arkansas and around the world — longer than most.
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but rather he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams, April 16, 1781.