How the Clintons worked Haiti

Mary Anastasia O’Grady extends one prong of Peter Schweizer’s case against the Clintons in Clinton Cash. O’Grady has previously explored the unsavory Clinton angle in the reconstruction of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Schweizer’s book prompts O’Grady to revisit her own reportage in this week’s Wall Street Journal Americas column “How the Clintons worked the angles in Haiti” (accessible here via Google).

O’Grady reports:

[I]n the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Obama administration and Congress gave Bill Clinton carte blanche in handling hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to Haiti for recovery and reconstruction. This translated into enormous political power for the former president in the poorest country in the hemisphere, making him a de facto cacique.

Mr. Clinton loves to paint himself as a third-world redeemer, as he did in an interview in Africa with an NBC reporter that aired last week. The reporter asked about charges that the Clinton Foundation’s practice of pulling in big money from governments and wealthy donors during Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state was a conflict of interest. Mr. Clinton countered that he’s helping the poor.

As an NBC narrator described Clinton Foundation activities, the former president and his daughter were shown fitting locals with hearing aids. Pravda could not have crafted a better piece of propaganda.

Yet peel back the veneer of “charity” and one finds that the Clinton way has inflicted egregious harm on the poor in developing nations because it has undermined respect for the rule of law that is so necessary for economic growth. If a former president of the U.S. flouts anticorruption protocols, why should the locals get hung up on them?

Haitians learned about Mr. Clinton’s affinity for cronyism after he used the Marines to restore deposed Haitian strongman Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994. As I have documented in this column, “friends of Bill” subsequently were awarded, in secret, a sweetheart deal from the state-owned monopoly phone company, Haiti Teleco, that gave them a substantial edge over the prevailing, mandated long-distance rates set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Within two weeks of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, the word had already gone out from the State Department that Bill Clinton would be in charge of U.S. reconstruction efforts. “That means,” one individual told me and I reported in a Jan. 25, 2010 column, “if you don’t have Clinton connections, you won’t be in the game.”

The “game,” as my source called it, meant securing hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development and grants from multilateral institutions like the InterAmerican Development Bank, which gets the bulk of its funding from the U.S.

The Clintons deny that Bill’s power over State’s purse was used to secure donations to the Clinton Foundation. But at least two contributors who gave more than $1 million as I described in a March 9 column, including the InterAmerican Development Bank, benefited from U.S. earthquake aid.

There’s a lot that didn’t get done. In the north of the country, the Clinton-proposed Caracol Industrial Park was supposed to feature some 40 buildings for apparel assembly supporting up to 65,000 jobs. It remains a mystery why there are still only three buildings in full operation and only 5,000 jobs, despite plenty of tenant interest.

Haitians are reluctant to criticize the Clintons publicly because of their power. “No one wants to be on the wrong side of the next president of the United States,” one Haitian told me during a visit I made to the country in December.

O’Grady’s reportage adds to the indictment handed up by Peter Schweizer in his new book.