Hillary Clinton is raising money, and she’ll accept it from anywhere, including Russia.
It’s right out in the open, on her website.
If you go to HillaryClinton.com, a website now titled “The Office of Hillary Clinton,” you’ll see a page with the former secretary of state’s current projects. The first one is something called “Onward Together.”
Onward Together was formed in May 2017. Based in New York City, it’s a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization that describes itself as “dedicated to advancing progressive values and building a brighter future for generations to come by encouraging people to organize, get involved, and run for office.”
If you follow the link on Clinton’s website to OnwardTogether.org, you’ll see a cheerful video featuring Clinton with many of the activists her organization is supporting. If you click to donate, the first thing the site wants to know is what country you’re in.
Unlike U.S. political campaign committees, which are regulated by the Federal Election Commission, 501(c)(4) organizations can accept donations from foreign countries. It appears from its website that Onward Together will accept money from anywhere, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and even from the Russian Federation. The site states that individuals who contribute must be U.S. citizens or “lawfully admitted” permanent residents, but it doesn’t mention any limitation on contributions from foreign governments, companies or organizations.
You’d think, given the thunderous outrage Democrats have expressed over unproven allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S. election, that Hillary Clinton would not be willing to accept money from foreign countries, including Russia, to spend on “encouraging people to organize, get involved, and run for office.”
But there it is, right on the website.
Has Russia given money to Onward Together?
We’ll never know. Unlike a political campaign committee, a 501(c)(4) is not required to make its donors public.
Hypothetically, a foreign government could donate to a politically oriented 501(c)(4) and finance a campaign of marches, protests and resistance designed to sow dissension in the United States and even undermine the U.S. government from abroad.
A 501(c)(4) organization can also make donations to a SuperPAC, which can spend money on campaigns. The SuperPAC must disclose the donation but not the names of the donors behind it. They stay secret. Coincidentally, there’s also an Onward Together PAC.
Secretive foreign donations have been an issue in the past for Hillary Clinton. It’s hard to argue with former President Barack Obama, who insisted that the Clintons sign a unique ethics agreement before he would nominate Mrs. Clinton to be secretary of state. The agreement required the Clinton Foundation to disclose its donors and banned new donations from foreign countries. It also required the former president to get White House approval for his paid speaking engagements.
It was then that Mrs. Clinton set up a private email server, concealing her communications from the prying eyes of government officials and Freedom of Information Act requests.
And now she has a “project” with secret donors.
Clinton and other politicians who claim to be concerned about foreign interference in U.S. elections should state unequivocally that they will not raise or accept money from foreign countries for use in U.S. politics, whether for advertising, organizing, protesting, mobilizing, recruiting candidates or campaigning.
Maybe former President Obama would like to lead the charge on this. He was one of the first to spot the problem.
Susan Shelley is an editorial writer for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley
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