Headlines are starting to mount against Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. After fellow contender Rand Paul tipped a major scandal to drop against the former First Lady, revelations broke that Clinton’s numerous charities had been given tens of millions of dollars in contributions which were not disclosed.
It now appears, according to Reuters, the Clinton’s numerous charities will refile half a decade of taxes to correct “mistakes”. While we of course expect better of our elected officials, the honest truth is that this is nothing new or remarkable.
When treasury secretary Timothy Geithner went through his Senate confirmation hearing the process exposed he, too, had ‘forgotten’ significant tax contributions towards Medicare and Social Security. The former Goldman partner, known for his financial wizardry, must have just made an honest mistake. The same honest mistake former Rhodes Scholar Clinton surely made by forgetting millions in donations from controversial governments like Russia.
The unsettled numbers on the tax returns undermine the concept of 990’s, the legal structure for political charities, role as a form of public accountability, experts in charity law and transparency advocates said today.
In Clinton’s case, for three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service that it received zero dollars from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars it received in previous years.
The foundation now says those entries were “errors” and that several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars toward the foundation.
The revelations come weeks after the former Secretary of State and First Lady acknowledged she ran a private email server to conduct State business and then deleted nearly all emails from this time despite strict laws that forbid such actions.
Hillary clearly has ethical problems and believe the ends, no matter how extraordinary, justify the means.
But a bigger concern is our convoluted system of campaign finance and being elected to office. Between specific finance laws and our messy tax code it is all too easy for people, especially those with great means, to play games and hide the truth from American voters.
It’s high time we simplified this system so that the American public can have faith in the process and its easy to audit. It would mark a return to the simplicity that used to define America’s democracy.