Bill's Overseas Ties Entangle Hillary

He's taken money from a lengthy list of international donors and at times supported foreign countries in ways that are at odds with or impact U.S. policy.

With financial and political interests across the globe, former President Bill Clinton's ties raise a unique set of questions about the potential overlaps and conflicts of interest should his wife be nominated as secretary of state.

Though the Obama team is working to vet Bill Clinton's interests, it may be nearly impossible to fully insulate Hillary from her husband's broad international reach, experts say.

"All these special relationships that Clinton has brings up issues of conflict of interests between the public trust of the United States and what is in his private interest," said James Thurber, the director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. "You cannot easily separate his interest from her interest, because they're one unit. They're married, so it's a serious problem."

A spokesperson for Clinton declined to comment as did a spokesperson for the Obama transition team.

During Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, Bill began divesting himself from some foreign ties, in particularly his relationship with Yucaipa Cos., an investment firm run by campaign donor Ron Burkle. Of concern was Clinton's partnership in the company's global investment fund, along with Burkle and a company closely tied to the ruler of Dubai.

And it's not as if Hillary hasn't dealt with any of these questions before. "This is a woman who has been a U.S. senator and a presidential candidate and potential conflicts that come up are not brand new things to her," said Maryle Boyle of Common Cause.

But it's not just Bill Clinton's financial ties that pose problems for Hillary. As someone who speaks regularly with world leaders, the former president would have unusual stake in the outcomes of his wife's policies.

Questions About Bill's Business Deals

Some of the biggest questions stem from his reported involvement in business deals that are at odds with U.S. policy or his wife.

The most widely cited example are reports that Clinton traveled to Kazakhstan in 2005 with a major mining investor, Frank Giustra, and pledged support to the president's interest in heading an international election monitoring organization -- despite criticism from U.S. officials, including his wife, on the country's human rights record.

Within days of the trip, Giustra's company landed a multi-million dollar deal to buy into Uranium projects with the Kazakhstan. Months later, Giustra donated $31.3 million to the Clinton foundation. Clinton's spokespeople have said that Clinton was unaware of any specific business plans Giustra had and he has said that his relationship with the former president did not affect his business.

Another instance involved Bill Clinton's role advising Dubai World Ports when its bid to win rights to run ports in the United States invoked a firestorm of domestic criticism. According to the Financial Times, Bill Clinton advised the company to allow for an intensive investigation into the company, something supported by the White House. But at the time Hillary Clinton was vocally opposed to the deal.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...