This is shaping up for another bad week for Hillary Clinton with stories on another undisclosed and unofficial email account that was used during tenure as Secretary of State as well as a New York Times story on the role of Sidney Blumenthal in seeking business with the State Department while continuing as an unofficial and controversial adviser to Clinton. However, the story that I found most interesting is a report that unions have been pouring significant money into the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has been accused of being a conduit for donors and foreign governments to give money to the Clinton, who have used the Foundation to hire loyalists (like Blumenthal) and pay for luxury travel for the Clinton family. While some have denounced the Clinton Foundation a “slush fund,” the New York Times has offered a more tempered criticism of the Foundation for its business dealings and advancement of Clinton’s political interests. Yet, Clinton supporters insist that the Foundation has done important work around the world. The use of union funds to support the Foundation would in my view be the most serious of the past disclosures, though it has received less attention than the huge sums paid by corporate and foreign figures trying to influence Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
The report appears to have been generated by a union watchdog group, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR). I am unfamiliar with the group and it is likely viewed by the unions as a conservative political organization. However, the group has made specific and documented allegations that should be addressed. If it is falsifying information, both individuals and unions may be able to sue. However, at the moment, the allegations have not been refuted from what I can see.
The group says that
“U.S. Department of Labor’s union financial disclosure reports reveal that Big Labor gave at least $2,034,500 in union general treasury funds to Clinton Foundations. Union treasuries are funded mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay. . . As Mrs. Clinton became closer to her current run for president, donations amounts appear to have increased.”
Here is the most disturbing allegation: “Some of these ‘donations’ are categorized by the unions as ‘political’ on their financial disclosure report. One such union, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices, a national plumbers union, is listed as giving nearly $200,000 through two contributions in 2013; each of those donations was classified as a political activity. Such a designation would seem to confirm the view of many that giving to the Clinton Foundation was viewed as a circumvention of federal laws in supporting the Clintons and particularly Hillary Clinton.
I was surprised to see little mainstream coverage of this allegation. It is not enough to dismiss a source when that source is quoting from actual federal filings. There should be some response. I find it highly troubling to think of union dues being given to such a Foundation. I have also become increasingly concerned over the use of the Foundation to hire Clinton stalwarts who seem to have moved freely between the State Department (as with Blumenthal) or the campaign staff like a shadow campaign structure. The view of foreign government or unions that the Foundation was a facade for the Clintons themselves was obvious.
What disturbs me is that I could not find a single rebuttal to the story. Perhaps some of our readers can find a response and share it with us. I may also be missing something as to why this is not a major story. Union funds are largely dues generated and should be used to advance the interests of the union. As the grandson of a coal miner and one of the early UMW organizers in Ohio, I have always been highly sympathetic to unions and their need to organize. However, using such funds to support the Clinton Foundation strikes me as problematic. Perhaps there was a union initiative at the Foundation that I am not aware of that would justify over $2 million in contributions.
Has anyone seen a response to this allegation? I would really like the read the opposing view.