PHILADELPHIA -- By now, you've probably heard that the Russian-linked DNC hack has exposed how party officials intentionally tilted the playing field against Bernie Sanders throughout the "Democratic" primary process. You've heard about how they peddled anti-Bernie stories to the press while voting was still going on. You've heard about how they mulled exploiting his religion, or lack thereof, to undermine his image among certain demographics. And you've heard about how they've discussed minorities as commodities and "customers" to be electorally-acquired through 'propaganda.' (Perhaps all of this could have been kept under wraps if the party had taken cyber security warnings more seriously, as opposed to privately mocking them in highly ironic emails). But here's another element of the email leaks that has received less attention thus far, via the transparency group Open Secrets:
Email exchanges involving top officials at the Democratic National Committee released along with private documents by WikiLeaks show that DNC officials hoped to reward top donors and insiders with appointments to federal boards and commissions in coordination with the White House. The revelations give an inside look into how the Democratic Party attempted to leverage its access and influence with the White House to bring in cash. In an April 20, 2016 email, DNC National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan canvassed what appears to be the committee’s finance department – its fundraising office – for names of people (mainly donors) to reward with federal appointments on boards and commissions...The White House strongly denied any link between financial support for the party and appointments.
That denial is not credible. At all. Obamaworld has been selling access to the White House and to Obama himself for years -- both in connection with presidential library fundraising efforts, as well as through
Obama for America "Organizing for Action," or whatever they ended up renaming it. It has not been subtle. And while it's in no way unprecedented for an administration to reward deep-pocketed donors with plum positions like ambassadorships (remember this?), Ed Morrissey notes one significant break from protocol revealed in these messages: "In truth these boards and commissions are routinely used to reward supporters. Usually, however, that isn’t handled by fundraising staff so as to avoid making it into an explicit quid pro quo." The other issue at play here is hypocrisy. Attendees of this convention have spent the week applauding one anti-Citizens United, Koch brothers-bashing, money-in-politics-lamenting speech after another. We must reduce the corrosive influence of money on our politics, these liberals bray, even as their party rents out the White House and hands out prestigious presidential appointments to their own ultra-rich financiers. As has always been the case, forever proven by Barack Obama, the Left is really against other people's money in politics. When piles of sweet, sweet cash help their own heroes and causes, it's fine. Because that's different. And that's how a mega-wealthy Clinton Foundation donor magically found himself on a sensitive national security panel despite his lack of qualifications; he was forced to resign when this came to light. Speaking of the Clinton Foundation and credible accusations of sleazy pay-for-play impropriety, it looks like it's time for yet another federal investigation:
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen referred congressional charges of corrupt Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” activities to his tax agency’s exempt operations office for investigation, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. The request to investigate the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on charges of “public corruption” was made in a July 15 letter by 64 House Republicans to the IRS, FBI and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They charged the foundation is “lawless” ... The lawmakers charged the Clinton Foundation is a “lawless ‘pay-to-play’ enterprise that has been operating under a cloak of philanthropy for years and should be investigated.” Koskinen’s July 22 reply came only a week after the House Republicans contacted the tax agency. It arrived to their offices Monday, the first opening day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The Exempt Organization Program is the division of the IRS that regulates the operations of public foundations and charities. House Republicans singled out Laureate Education and Uranium One as two companies that seemed to have paid lavish sums to the Clintons and later received official government benefits.
Ah yes, the IRS' Exempt Organization program. I'm sure they'll get right on this, in a characteristically evenhanded and above-board manner. Incidentally, we've written about both Laureate Education and Uranium One in this space previously. As we mentioned yesterday, James Comey recently declined to comment on whether the Clinton Foundation's practices were the subject of an FBI investigation, as Fox News' Catherine Herridge has reported. I'll leave you with this investigative piece from NBC's Ronan Farrow on lavish spending, high rollers, and access-peddling at both parties' national conventions:
Cocktails, yachts, golf rounds. Inside the convention parties where politicians get wined and dined by big business: https://t.co/x3GJchEj9M— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) July 27, 2016