Category Archives: Hillary Clinton

DNC and the Law – WSJ

Don’t hold your breath waiting for DOJ to investigate.
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WSJ 11/13/2017
By Cleta Mitchell And Hans von Spakovsky

Donna Brazile has confirmed Bernie Sanders’s worst suspicions. Ms. Brazile, who served as interim chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the fall 2016 campaign, says in a new book that during the primaries, the DNC was controlled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Ms. Brazile claims the arrangement was “not illegal,” but that is far from clear.

Ms. Brazile reports that when she arrived on the job in July 2016, Gary Gensler, the campaign’s chief financial officer, told her the DNC was fully under the control of the campaign. In September 2015, 10 months before Mrs. Clinton’s nomination, the party had moved its bank account to the same bank in New York used by the Clinton campaign and created a joint fundraising committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, whose treasurer, bank account, and control were vested in the campaign. Then, in an August 2015 memorandum of understanding, the DNC essentially handed over its operations to the Clinton campaign for the next 15 months.

The purpose of joint fundraising committees is to allow more than one entity to collaborate in raising money and share in the costs. Each participant is subject to federal contribution limits. When the party itself is a participant, its committee (in this case the DNC) normally handles accounting and financial controls. Not here. The Hillary Victory Fund was controlled by the Clinton campaign, with a campaign employee as treasurer and the fund’s bank account established at the Clinton campaign’s bank. According to Federal Election Commission reports, the Hillary Victory Fund has raised more than $526 million.

The DNC asserted its “neutrality” by also entering into a joint fundraising committee with the Sanders campaign. It raised a total of $1,000. And the Bernie Victory Committee treasurer was the DNC’s designee.

“Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state,” Ms. Brazile writes, “but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn”—i.e., Clinton headquarters. She says state parties raised $82 million, of which they kept less than 0.5%.

The memorandum of understanding promised the Clinton campaign, among other things, “complete and seamless access to all research work product and tools” paid for by the DNC, despite Federal Election Commission regulations that prohibit privately sharing such research with a candidate without either reporting the costs as an in-kind contribution or allocating them against the party’s coordinated spending limits for that candidate.

The memo also tied transfers of funds raised for the DNC by the Hillary Victory Fund to operational control of the DNC’s expenditures: “The release of the Base Amounts each month are conditioned on the following: . . . hiring of DNC Communications Director . . . DNC senior staff . . . joint authority

over strategic decisions . . . alerting HFA”—Hillary for America, the campaign—“in advance of . . . any direct mail communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate or his or her signature.”

Contributions to the DNC, even though made through the Hillary Victory Fund, were required by law to be transferred to the party and could not legally be withheld by the Clinton-designated treasurer. Nor does the law allow a single candidate to control a political party’s operations and expenditures.

National party committees have higher contribution limits than candidates do—$334,000 a year vs. $2,700 for each election. The memorandum raises the possibility that Clinton campaign took advantage of the DNC’s higher limits, then availed itself of all the resources the DNC could buy—without having any of the attendant costs or expenditures assessed against the campaign.

There are strict statutory limits on what a party committee can contribute to any candidate and what a party can spend in coordination with its candidates. We don’t like limits on the ability of parties to support their candidates. But campaign- finance zealots, egged on by media outlets (which are not subject to any limits), made certain that the McCain-Feingold law of 2002 stringently limited coordination between candidates and political parties. Although the Supreme Court struck down parts of McCain-Feingold in the 2010 Citizens United case, the coordination limits still apply. The FEC and the Justice Department should investigate the Clinton-DNC arrangement.

Candidate Clinton railed against Citizens United— a case that involved a documentary film critical of her— arguing that “big money” and “secret spending” are ruining our politics. Is it too much to ask that those who loudly demand greater regulation of political speech and spending themselves abide by the laws already on the books?

Ms. Mitchell is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP who practices federal campaign finance law. Mr. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

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Letters: Pardon for Clinton??

I happen to agree with most of these letters. Trump should not pre-empt getting the facts into the light.
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The thrust of your Nov. 23 editorial “Democracy’s Verdict on Clinton” is that President-elect Donald Trump did the right thing by deciding not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email and Clinton Foundation issues.

But the subject is much larger and more important than Mrs. Clinton and whatever she did or didn’t do. Dropping the investigations would leave many key questions unanswered. Is there a two-tiered justice system in which the well-connected get favorable treatment? Was Mrs. Clinton’s server hacked and her emails stolen by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran or other states or individuals? Were crimes committed by anyone else involved with Mrs. Clinton? If so, should they be prosecuted? What changes to the laws and governmental procedures should be made to prevent similar occurrences in the future?

This isn’t like President Ford’s pardon of President Nixon after the Watergate affair. Ford acted after all the facts were out and well known by the public. The pardon came after extremely extensive news coverage and after Senate hearings that extended week after week on live TV, with testimony from all important participants, including White House aides and other administration figures. Many lower-level figures were prosecuted and either entered guilty pleas or were found guilty at trial, and many went to jail. None of this has occurred in the present case. There have been congressional hearings that were notable mostly for what wasn’t said and questions not answered, but there was no informative testimony from administration officials. There is no public knowledge of the results of the FBI investigations.

Even if Mrs. Clinton is pardoned, it is vital to get the facts out and, if appropriate, to prosecute her accomplices and enablers as a deterrent to future abuses.

A.A. KATTERHENRY Clearwater, Fla.

To place political expediency before the protection of defense personnel and national security is manifestly irresponsible. The integrity of the classification system guards people’s lives. There is no other way to express it. Those in military uniform, plus a number of people elsewhere within the front lines of intelligence and some defense agencies, risk their very lives every day under the protection of these secrecies.

COL. ART SABOSKI, USAF (RET.)

Prescott Valley, Ariz.

What is to happen to the many persons in this case who aren’t elected officials but were involved to a greater or lesser degree? Are they to be absolved with a wave of the hand? What about the lawyers who facilitated the destruction of evidence on the Clinton email server that had been subpoenaed, for example? If proved, those who supervised the team that destroyed evidence should be held accountable for clearly criminal acts.

How far does the exoneration go? If it is later found out that foreign nations hacked into the email server and obtained vital state secrets, is everyone remotely involved forgiven? What about sexism in reverse? Allowing the women involved to go free for a reason that appears to be they were just women close to Hillary.

We have learned through history that just following orders is no defense. Compare the treatment of Scooter Libby with the apparent treatment in this case of Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

This case could set dangerous precedents for the futures.

LARRY G. DEVRIES

Vancouver, Wash.

In the spirit of fair play, Presidentelect Trump should at the same time pardon Gen. David Petraeus, Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier and Mark Basseley Youssef (formerly Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, producer of the “Innocence of Muslims” video untruthfully named as the provocation for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya) and any others in the same circumstances.

MICHAEL S. KRAUSE

Westport, Conn.

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The Cheap Moralizing of Never Trump

Surely, you won’t…?
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Three weeks out from Election Day, the Never Trump argument has been neatly summed up by Bill Maher. Not only is Donald Trump coarse and boorish, anyone who supports the man is as revolting as he is.

On his show last month, Mr. Maher put it this way to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway: “You are enabling pure evil.” The HBO comedian went on to amuse himself by adding that “Hillary was right when she called a lot of his supporters deplorable.

Mr. Maher might have added that it is also a well worn Democratic trope. After all, wasn’t it Barack Obama who described small-town Americans as bitterly clinging to guns and religion and disliking anyone who is different? As for Hillary Clinton, in her deplorables crack she dismissed half of Mr. Trump’s followers as “racist, sexist, homophobic.” Less well noted (but more telling), she also declared them “irredeemable.”

This is an old argument for the left. But Republicans are now hearing it from the right as well. Which puts conservative Never Trumpers in a curious position vis-à-vis government of, by and for the people: Are the tens of millions of Americans who will pull the lever for Trump come November evil too, or just invincibly stupid?

Give the Never Trumpers their due: Most do not shy away from the implication that anyone who would vote for Mr. Trump is as low and base as he is. Their problem is that the argument doesn’t seem to be having much traction with Republican voters. A Rasmussen poll released Monday found that while Mrs. Clinton enjoys the support of 78% of Democrats, Mr. Trump is supported by 74% of Republicans. Other polls show that even after all his fumbles and embarrassments, the vast majority of Republicans do not want Mr. Trump to drop out.

One reason may be that the argument about morally corrupt GOP voters is not really an argument. More precisely, it’s an argument Republicans typically hear from the left. Instead of weighing the prosaic facts—i.e., the practical ramifications of having Mrs. Clinton sitting in the Oval Office versus Mr. Trump—how much easier it is to try to end all discussion by pronouncing the GOP nominee repellent.

Trump supporters get this. Probably few were surprised by the “Access Hollywood” tape that showed Mr. Trump in full Bill Clinton mode. They support him in spite of it.

They support him because they fear political correctness is making vital discussions about the country impossible— and conclude that any candidate who’s going to take this on is not going to be Miss Manners. They support him because they know what they will get if Mrs. Clinton wins, as now looks likely.

They support him because they get the contempt dripping from Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton whenever the subject is the things they cherish: faith, patriotism, the decency of ordinary citizens, and so on. Above all, they support him because they also get that the elite contempt for Donald Trump is a proxy contempt for them.

Still, each new day brings new accusations and analogies. Like college sophomores ransacking history for the most extreme metaphors, no pejorative is too fantastic. Trump is Hitler! Trump is Mussolini! Trump is Nietzsche! Even George Will just likened the GOP convention to a “mini-Nuremberg.”

Ironically, the cheapest moralizing has been reserved for those trying to make the best of a bad situation. Thus Trump running mate Mike Pence finds himself accused of moral turpitude for working to keep the Republican Party from coming apart and giving voters some hope for a conservative agenda if Mr. Trump were to win.

Ditto for House Speaker Paul Ryan, excoriated by the Trumpers for his efforts to preserve the GOP’s House majority and by Never Trumpers for refusing to un-endorse the Republican nominee. Mr. Ryan understands that losing the Congress would give President Hillary Clinton two years to push through the progressive wish list, not to mention putting a liberal majority on the Supreme Court, preserving ObamaCare and maintaining the travesty that is the nuclear deal with Iran. Having watched what the 2010 GOP House takeover did to the Obama agenda, she would no doubt take full advantage of the time she has to act.

In the end, the strongest argument for a Trump vote has always been this: The alternative is a president who lies, whose public life has been a series of scandals from cattle futures to the destruction of documents under subpoena, who would be a third term for disastrous Obama policies at home and abroad, and who has never taken a position that wasn’t done from naked political expediency—from supporting the Iraq war in 2002 or opposing it later to invoking Abraham Lincoln to justify saying one thing in public and another in private.

Meanwhile, the Never Trump movement’s contribution has been to give us a word for all those who have weighed this evidence and have found the argument against a Clinton presidency persuasive: evil.

Write to mcgurn@wsj.com.

Trump voters get that the elite contempt for their man is a proxy contempt for them.

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‘Queen’ Elizabeth Gives Orders to Hillary

WSJ 10/17/2016
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As Hillary Clinton expands her lead in the polls, Democrats are angling to influence her choices for policy-making jobs. Witness Elizabeth Warren’s extraordinary demand on Friday that President Obama demote Mary Jo White as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Massachusetts Senator made her demand in a letter to the President that is remarkable for its vitriol toward someone nominated by a President of her own party. The Bay State progressive accuses the SEC chair of “brazen conduct” in choosing not to require new disclosures from public corporations regarding their political activities.

She also rants that Ms. White is “ignoring the SEC’s core mission of investor protection” and trying to reduce the amount of information that investors receive. And she demands that he “immediately designate another SEC commissioner as Chair of the agency,” which is supposed to be independent.

The idea that Ms. White is reducing public disclosures must be news to everyone now struggling to comply with new reporting rules on asset management, CEO pay ratios, conflict minerals, derivatives, and more. The Warren charge springs from the fact that, like every other person who has run the modern SEC, Ms. White has wondered if disclosures can be simplified to make it easier for investors to find the information they need. As for ignoring investor protection, the record shows that in the 12 months ending in September, the SEC brought more enforcement cases than in any other year in its history.

But the Warren letter really has nothing to do with disclosure or investor protection. Ms. Warren has never forgiven the SEC chief for her 2013 decision not to turn the agency into an IRS-style political targeting operation.

Under pressure from then-Rep. Barney Frank and liberal activists, Ms. White’s predecessor Mary Schapiro overrode objections from career staff and put a new political disclosure rule on the SEC’s regulatory agenda. Commission staff rightly cautioned that the agency’s job is to ensure the disclosure of information that is relevant and material to those making investment decisions, not to regulate political speech.

But having failed to get its way in Congress or the courts, the left wants to use the regulatory power of the SEC to cut off corporate support for the Chamber of Commerce, trade associations and other groups that oppose more taxes and regulation. The idea is to impose heavy reporting requirements on business—but not on labor unions—for providing financial support to groups engaged in public debate. Left-wing activists will then take the information and use it to beat up CEOs or boycott companies that donate.

Ms. Warren’s letter claims that “corporations are flooding our elections with millions of dollars in secret political contributions, drowning out the voices of working families.” But corporate Pac donations to candidates or to Super Pacs must be disclosed under current law. Notice how she doesn’t target billionaire progressive donors like Tom Steyer or George Soros—perhaps because Politico reported on the weekend that Hillary “Clinton has built the biggest big-money operation ever.”

To her great credit, Ms. White dropped the partisan political disclosure idea from the SEC’s to-do list, and progressives have been carping ever since. Ms. White has stood firm against this threat to the SEC’s integrity, and White House spokesman Eric Schultz says the President continues to believe Ms. White ‘is the right leader’ for the job, according to the Associated Press.

But with Mr. Obama a short-timer, Ms. Warren’s broadside is really aimed at Mrs. Clinton. It’s a warning that she should replace Ms. White with a new chair who will impose the political rule, and that anyone Mrs. Clinton nominates as SEC chair won’t make it through a Democratic Senate without the approval of Queen Elizabeth.

This Warren gauntlet is already the talk of Wall Street Democrats who are wondering how they can please her highness and get back in government. The New Republic reports that Peter Orszag, an expert in the Beltway-Broadway revolving door, has suggested a trade-off of giving Ms. Warren her way on personnel in return for her tolerating a tax reform-public works spending deal with House Republicans.

All of which shows the sway the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren left will have over a Clinton Presidency. Get ready for much more anti-business law-writing by decree.

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