I wrote here about Pacific Rubiales, an oil company founded by Bill Clinton’s pal Frank Giustra. During Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, Pacific Rubiales was the subject of substantial charges of violations of the rights of its workers.
It was alleged, for example, that when workers at Pacific Rubiales staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened them with violence if they failed to disband. It was also alleged that various intimidation tactics against workers amounted to an everyday feature of life at Pacific Rubiales.
Such tactics were known to be used in Colombia. Their usage had caused liberals like Hillary Clinton to oppose a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia.
As Secretary of State, Clinton abandoned her opposition and a trade pact was signed. To assuage concerns about the intimidation of workers and unionists, a special labor agreement prohibiting such practices accompanied the trade agreement.
Subsequently, however, repeated complaints by labor groups about worker mistreatment by Pacific Rubiales went unaddressed by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Indeed, the Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, notwithstanding these complaints.
What accounts for Hillary Clinton’s benign response to allegations of wrongdoing by Pacific Rubiales? One possible explanation resides in the fact, reported by the Washington Post, that the company poured $3.5 million into the Clinton Giustra Enterprise partnership, a charity affiliated with the Clinton Foundation.
To be sure, this is just a possibility. To my knowledge, no smoking gun has been found showing a quid pro quo relationship between the hefty monetary contribution and Hillary Clinton’s disregard of allegations against Pacific Rubiales (or her flip-flop on the Colombia trade agreement, which also benefited Pacific Rubiales). It may all be a coincidence.
We now know, however, that the Clinton Foundation did not disclose the donation from Pacific Rubiales. The company was one of more than 1,000 contributors to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership that the Foundation failed to disclose.
The Clintons thus thumbed their noses at an ethics agreement they had reached with the Obama administration that was intended to deal with conflicts of interest such as the one described above that arose with Pacific Rubiales. As Richard Lugar, then the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Post when asked about the undisclosed Canadian donors, “clearly there was an expectation and a commitment that large donations to the Clinton Foundation would be disclosed.” The large donation by Pacific Rubiales was not disclosed.
The Clinton Foundation’s acting chief executive tried to justify the non-disclosure by claiming that under Canadian law, all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors without prior permission from each donor. But this claim does not withstand scrutiny, as the Washington Post’s fact-checker explained in giving the claim three Pinocchios. If this isn’t another “Clinton cash” lie, it comes close.
As I said, perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Pacific Rubiales made a large contribution to the Clinton Foundation and received favorable treatment. But the Clintons’ failure to disclose the donation strengthens the inference that there was a quid pro quo relationship here. After all, why wouldn’t they adhere to the ethics agreement they reached with the Obama administration, unless Hillary wanted the freedom to conceal favors for undisclosed donors?