|REVIEW & OUTLOOK|
Transparency is a popular word in this presidential election, with all three candidates finally having released their tax returns. Yet the public still hasn’t seen the records of an institution with some of the biggest potential for special-interest mischief: The William J. Clinton Foundation.
Bill Clinton established that body in 1997 while still President. It has since raised half-a-billion dollars, which has been spent on Mr. Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas and global philanthropic initiatives. The mystery remains its donors, and whether these contributors might one day seek to call in their chits with a President Hillary Clinton.
That’s no small matter given the former first couple’s history. Yet Mr. Clinton says he won’t violate the “privacy” of donors by disclosing their names, even if his wife wins the Oval Office. What is already in the public record should make that secrecy untenable, however:
Chicago bankruptcy lawyer William Brandt Jr. pledged $1 million for the Clinton library in May 1999, at the same time the Justice Department was investigating whether he’d lied about a Clinton fundraising event. The Clinton DOJ cleared him a few months later.
Loral Space and Communications then-CEO, Bernard Schwartz, committed to $1 million in 2000, at the same time the firm was being investigated for improperly sending technology to China. Loral agreed to a $14 million fine during the Bush Administration.
A major investor in cellular firm NextWave – Bay Harbour Management – pledged $1 million in 1999, when NextWave was waiting to see if the Clinton FCC would allow it to keep its cellular licenses. NextWave didn’t immediately get its licenses, and Bay Harbour never made good on its pledge.