Last Wednesday, the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released its most recent round of hacked emails from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. This time, the focus of the attacks is on the Clinton Foundation, and the ways in which the charity and the private income of the Clintons have often overlapped.
The Clinton Foundation is a charitable organization run by the Clinton family that focuses on issues involving global health, economic development, climate change, girls and women, and health and wellness. It is considered an “operating foundation,” meaning that instead of raising money and passing it along to other organizations, it conducts its own charitable activities. To date, the Foundation has raised over $2 billion and employs more than 2000 people. Throughout the campaign, the Clintons have denied any improper dealings and insisted that the Clinton Foundation does not present a conflict of interest–meaning that Hillary Clinton’s role in the Foundation did not in any way influence her role as Secretary of State, and vice versa.
However, this most recent round of leaked emails indicates that many of the companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation also paid Bill Clinton privately for speeches and “advisory services.” One hacked email, written by Bill Clinton’s former top aide, estimates the personal worth of “Bill Clinton, Inc.”–meaning the former president’s business arrangements and paid speeches–to have been about $30 million during the ten years after he left office (including the years when Hillary Clinton was head of the State Department). However, many of the companies who paid Bill Clinton privately for these services were also important donors to the Clinton Foundation, leading many to believe that Bill Clinton used the Foundation’s power and influence to build a massive for-profit business for himself.
Other emails have indicated that important Clinton Foundation donors were given special treatment such as contacts with State Department officials, seats at State Department dinners, and other perks. And to further complicate matters, Cheryl Mills, who served as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was heavily involved in the Clinton Foundation as well.
The Clintons deny any wrongdoing and have always made their personal income tax statements, as well as those of the Clinton Foundation, available to the public. It is important to note that none of the hacked emails directly reference Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the period of time in question. Furthermore, there is no evidence that anyone paying Bill Clinton or the Clinton Foundation had any direct influence on Hillary Clinton’s work in the State Department; in fact, the Department insists that she never made any policy decisions based on donations to the Foundation.
However, in the last days of a contentious election, there is no doubt that these developments provide a much-needed boost to the lagging campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Trump has been quick to criminalize the Clintons, saying that the hacked emails reveal a lack of good judgment and poor financial responsibility which would follow Hillary Clinton to the White House. Exactly how much damage this latest round of leaked emails has done to the Hillary Clinton campaign remains to be seen.