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NOLAN FINLEY

Finley: Clinton Foundation must shut down

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Public service has been very, very good to the Clintons. Now with Hillary Clinton seemingly headed to the White House, the couple’s financial fortunes are unlimited — if they can follow the same business model that helped make them super rich.

The Clintons’ recently released 2015 tax returns show an income of $10.5 million, which places them solidly within the reviled 1 percent, those privileged elites Hillary Clinton says will need “toppling” for the middle class to rise.

Don’t look for the Clintons to head voluntarily to the guillotine. Piling up wealth has been their obsession since leaving office 16 years ago, by Hillary Clinton’s description, virtually penniless. Their net worth is roughly $110 million.

Bill Clinton has perfected the marketing of the presidency, commanding speaking fees that start at $500,000 and go up. During the period after she left the Obama administration and was mulling what to do with her life, Hillary Clinton also cleaned up on the speaker circuit, drawing fat checks from Wall Street financial houses and nonprofits alike.

They kept some of the money and donated some to the family’s Clinton Foundation, a global nonprofit that is part charity, part political front.

Then Hillary Clinton was named secretary of state. The nexus between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation presented vast new opportunities for bringing in cash.

Whether by intent or coincidence, major donors to the Clinton Foundation also had business before Hillary Clinton’s State Department. And what the Washington Post last week called “the porous ethical wall” between the two institutions failed to prevent the collaboration President Barack Obama worried about when he demanded, on naming her to his cabinet, that she report any hint of conflict.

Clinton aides moved between the State Department and the foundation, and it served as a holding pen for her campaign staff, providing them with jobs and contracts.

So what will happen to the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton wins the election? The couple has been vague, and a media that is unable to scrutinize more than one scoundrel at a time has shown little interest in exploring the hazards.

Bill Clinton last month promised the foundation would change if his wife is elected. “You have to be careful to avoid actual and potential conflicts of interest,” he said. “We’ll think very clearly about it and we’ll do the right thing and explain it to the American people.”

But the Clintons are artists at dancing along the ethical edge. Any assurances offered about conflict avoidance can’t be trusted, considering Hillary Clinton blew off similar promises made to Obama.

The foundation should have stopped taking donations the minute Clinton announced her presidential bid. If it remains open after she’s elected, foreign governments and others who’ve witnessed how contributions open the access door will flood it with cash, thinking it’s a secret tunnel into the Oval Office.

Hillary Clinton should explain what will happen to the Clinton Foundation if she’s elected. And the only acceptable answer is that it will shut down.

Nolan Finley’s book “A Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice” is available from Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble Nook.

nfinley@detroitnews.com