GOP knows ‘pay to play’

Don­ald Trump should look to his own party and foun­da­tion to find ‘pay to play’

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Ken­neth Buck Ken­neth Buck is a re­tired fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cer. His email is kp­buck@ver­i­zon.net.

Iguess I’m con­fused, but I’m sure some­one can ex­plain it to me. Don­ald Trump and the Repub­li­can Party are now fo­cus­ing on the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion as a “pay to play” op­er­a­tion. Dona­tions to the foun­da­tion were, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Trump and other con­ser­va­tives, used to se­cure ac­cess and in­flu­ence while Hil­lary Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of state and would be used in the fu­ture to in­flu­ence her as pres­i­dent, if elected.

I looked at the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and its work on the In­ter­net; they have a web­site. What I saw was a foun­da­tion with mul­ti­ple ini­tia­tives all over the world to help the sick, the poor and the dis­ad­van­taged. Here is a sam­ple (from the foun­da­tion web­site):

The Clin­ton De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive’s An­chor Farm projects in Tan­za­nia, Rwanda and Malawi worked with more than 77,000 small­holder farm­ers, pro­vid­ing cli­mates­mart agro­nomic train­ing and ac­cess to mar­kets and ser­vices for maize, soya and sun­flower pro­duc­tion;

The Clin­ton Health Mat­ters Ini­tia­tive, which aims to im­prove the health and well­ness in com­mu­ni­ties across the United States, gen­er­ated dozens of for­mal­ized strate­gic part­ner­ships with na­tional and lo­cal en­ti­ties. These part­ner­ships col­lec­tively re­flect in­vest­ments and projects that will reach more than 50 mil­lion peo­ple across the coun­try.

The Clin­ton Gius­tra En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship (CGEP), which cre­ates so­cial en­ter­prises that help peo­ple lift them­selves out of poverty, ex­panded its work in 2014. CGEP cre­ated a dis­tri­bu­tion en­ter­prise in Peru and a peanut sup­ply chain en­ter­prise in Haiti, where it also sup­ported the growth of en­tre­pre­neur­ial busi­nesses across Haiti and pro­vided agri­cul­tural train­ing and in­puts to hun­dreds of cof­fee farm­ers. CGEP also be­gan work­ing with more than 500 farm­ers across Latin Amer­ica, reg­is­tered more than 3,000 stu­dents in its train­ing cen­ter en­ter­prise in Colom­bia between 2013 and 2015, and re­cruited and hun­dreds of fe­male en­trepreneurs in Peru and Haiti.

I also saw au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments, an­nual re­ports and IRS Form 990s “Re­turn of Or­ga­ni­za­tion Ex­empt from In­come Tax.” The Form 990s shows, among many other things, all large donors and the range of the dona­tions. The au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments and an­nual re­ports de­tail all ac­tiv­i­ties of the foun­da­tion and re­lated en­ti­ties down to the last dol­lar.

Trans­parency? I think so. Pay to play? Hardly.

Prob­lems clearly arise when I look at Amer­i­can Cross­roads, Karl Rove’s CPAC; or Re­store Our Fu­ture, an­other Repub­li­can CPAC; or any of a num­ber of CPACs that falsely claim they are ed­u­ca­tional in na­ture and not po­lit­i­cal so they can hide their donors and how much they do­nated — donors who give mil­lions to cam­paigns for what rea­son? To se­cure ac­cess and in­flu­ence with the can­di­date — “pay to play” if you will.

And what about the Trump Foun­da­tion? It was fined $2,500 by the IRS in 2013 for mak­ing an il­le­gal $25,000 do­na­tion to Florida’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, who then coin­ci­den­tally chose not to pro­ceed with a fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Trump Univer­sity. Or the Koch broth­ers’ au­di­tion of Repub­li­can can­di­dates to de­ter­mine which ones will re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port — one of many au­di­tions by bil­lion­aires lately? Pay for play?

Fre­dreka Schouten of USA To­day spoke with Charles Koch last year and wrote that he was “con­sid­er­ing throw­ing his po­lit­i­cal might into the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary for the first time and is likely to pro­vide fi­nan­cial help to sev­eral con­tenders be­fore set­tling on a sin­gle can­di­date.”

She added: “Koch, his brother David and their team have iden­ti­fied five can­di­dates who­have the right mes­sage,” and, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Koch, “a good chance of get­ting elected.” The can­di­dates were iden­ti­fied as Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker, for­mer Florida gover­nor Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and Marco Ru­bio of Florida. “Those are the ones we have talked to the most and who seem to be the pos­si­ble lead­ers,” Mr. Koch said dur­ing the in­ter­view.

“What we’ve told them all is that right now, we’re not sup­port­ing any­one,” Mr. Koch said. “We’re telling them that if they want our sup­port, one way to get it is ar­tic­u­lat­ing a good mes­sage to help Amer­i­cans get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and a bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how cer­tain poli­cies … will ben­e­fit them and will ben­e­fit all Amer­ica.”

Pay for play?

GER­ALD HER­BERT/AP

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump ar­rives at a cam­paign rally with Florida At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pam Bondi. Ms. Bondi dropped an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Trump Univer­sity shortly after re­ceiv­ing a do­na­tion from the Trump Foun­da­tion.

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