During Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders came out swinging—he made it unequivocally clear where the divide stood between himself and Hillary Clinton, particularly concerning wealthy donors and special interests.
Unfortunately, Sanders failed to capitalize on a key moment that could have cemented the points he otherwise made well—when moderator Dana Bash asked him to point to a specific “decision [Clinton] made as senator that shows that she favored banks because of the money she received.”
This is what Sanders said:
“The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street brought this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression…the obvious response to that is that you've got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.
That was my view way back, and I introduced legislation to do that. Now, Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.”
This was mildly convincing, at best, and Clinton immediately refuted his point by claiming, “He cannot come up with any example, because there is no example,” to much applause.
Anyone who has studied Clinton’s history knows this to be false. Not only has she favored the banks and Wall Street, but she has favored virtually every special interest that exists, including the fossil fuel industry, fracking, the military industrialized complex, defense contractors, Big Pharma, and Big Oil.
Her decisions as a senator and secretary of state clearly reflect this, so where Bernie could not give specifics, we will.
One of the best known examples of Clinton changing her vote to favor the banks involves a bankruptcy bill that reappeared multiple times in the late 90s and early 2000s. But don’t take our word for it—here’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren to explain:
To summarize, as a first lady, Clinton spoke to Warren and immediately recognized the harmful nature of the bankruptcy bill, pushing Bill Clinton to veto it—an accomplishment she touts about in her autobiography. Then, as a New York senator, Clinton received large sums of money from banks and credit card companies, and lo and behold: she voted in favor of the bankruptcy bill.
This is one of the most blatant examples of quid pro quo, but there are other equally obvious, if less transactional, instances of money influencing Clinton’s take on policy.
Big Oil (particularly, Chevron)
2008: Clinton gets big money from Chevron— David Sirota (@davidsirota) April 15, 2016
2009: Clinton State Dept backs tar sands pipeline benefiting...Chevron https://t.co/1Si5OD6dM2
During Clinton’s time as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received massive sums of money from the fossil fuel industry and oil companies, particularly ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Chevron.
As the IB Times reports, these three companies donated an estimated $2.5 to $3 million to the Clinton Foundation, “on top of money their executives and lobbyists delivered to Clinton’s campaign and super PAC in her 2008 presidential bid.” Chevron, specifically, had multiple bundlers for the Clinton campaign, raising $100,000 for her run. Two lobbyists are even bundling for her 2016 run.
These three companies were also lobbying the state department for a “400-mile Alberta Clipper pipeline, which [was] designed to pump up to 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Canadian oil sands to Wisconsin.” Chevron was heavily invested in this oil sands project as it would benefit oil transport and increase the amounts of petroleum it could pump.
Despite the negative environmental ramifications, when it came time for the Clinton State Department to approve the pipeline, guess what? It did.
In a report titled “Clinton changed stance on trade deal after donations to foundation," The Hill specifically details how Clinton advocated for a free trade deal with Colombia after receiving millions to the Clinton Foundation, despite “worries of human rights violations.”
In this instance, the money revolves around one individual: Frank Giustra, who founded a Colombian oil company (Pacific Rubiales) and also donated $130 million to the Clinton Foundation while serving as a board member.
Clinton, who initially criticized Colombia’s human rights violations before her time as secretary of state, suddenly pushed for the United States-Colombia Free Trade Promotion Agreement, claiming Colombia was meeting “criteria related to human rights.”
It was passed by Congress later in the year.
Arms Deals Around The World
The Clintons’ relationship with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East is well-documented, but when you get into the specifics of what Clinton approved due to donations from various countries, it becomes extremely troubling.
In what we see to be reoccurring pattern, the Clinton Foundation (of course) received an estimated $10 million just in one year from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It also received millions from countries such as Algeria, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman—in total, anywhere from $54 to $114 million, according the IB Times.
The IB Times discovered that in response, “Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation.”
These arms were not used for benign purposes. They fell into the leadership of authoritarian, dictatorial regimes who have been blasted for their complete disregard for human rights and human life.
Yet because these countries had donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, Clinton was more than willing to approve arms deals that undoubtedly cost thousands of citizens in the Middle East their lives.
The influence of money on Clinton even extends to her board appointments.
Rajiv Fernando is a hedge-fund manager who, according to ABC News, was a “prolific bundler” for the Clinton campaign, and also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to—surprise!—the Clinton Foundation.
Fernando possesses no experience with international relations (his expertise is “high-frequency trading”), yet somehow he was appointed with nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries and members of Congress to the International Security Advisory Board, which advised Clinton during her time as secretary of state.
One of the members told ABC News that, “none of the other members could figure out who Fernando was or why he was there.”
We can take one guess: money.
Fun to watch lobbyists tweet. @IngridDuran is a Comcast lobbyist raising cash for Hillary, tweeting defense of her not being corrupt— Lee Fang (@lhfang) April 15, 2016
If you continue to dig into Clinton’s record, you continue to unearth dozens of examples that corroborate the belief that Clinton is undeniably swayed by money and prioritizes corporations and profits over progressive ideals.
Sanders has ample evidence and ammo to hit her hard—he just needs to take the leap and do so.
Banner Image Credit: Reuters