Hillary Clinton and State Department, Inc.

Fox News reports, via the Associated Press, that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton “opened her office to dozens of influential Democratic party fundraisers, former Clinton administration and campaign loyalists, and corporate donors to her family’s global charity.” The report is based on a review of State Department scheduling calendars.

According to the AP:

The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives and long-time Clinton political and charity donors during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show.

Those formally scheduled meetings involved heads of companies and organizations that pursued business or private interests with the Obama administration, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge. . . .

Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — to her campaigns, her husband’s and to her family’s foundation.

Among the “luminaries” with whom Secretary Clinton met was Randi Weingarten head of the American Federation of Teachers. Although there is no obvious foreign policy matter that would cause a busy Secretary of State to devote time to a domestic union boss, Weingarten met with Clinton in October 2009.

That year, Weingarten’s union spent nearly $1 million lobbying the government. It also spent at least $1 million on lobbying in 2010 and 2012.

Weingarten’s union has since endorsed Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, and Weingarten is on the board of Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting Clinton. The union has also given $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Other luminaries included GE’s lefty head Jeff Immelt and PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi, who had at least three scheduled contacts with Clinton. PepsiCo’s foundation pledged in 2008 to provide $7.6 million in grants to two water firms as a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. The Clinton charity also listed a PepsiCo Foundation donation of more than $100,000 in 2014, the same year the company’s foundation announced a partnership with the charity.

Nooyi caused considerable controversy ten years ago when she used a speech to Colombia MBA graduates to attack America based on an analogy that would embarrass a high school sophomore. Comparing the fingers on her hand to the five major continents, Nooyi explained that the middle finger represents the U.S. (which, of course, is not a continent). She said:

If used inappropriately—just like the U.S. itself—the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I’m not looking for volunteers to model.

Discretion being the better part of valor…I think I’ll pass.

What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S.—the long middle finger—must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand…not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S.—the middle finger—sticks out so much, we send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand—giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers—but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.

Fortunately, I doubt that Nooyi spent much time sharing her juvenile foreign policy views with Clinton. More likely, the conversations were all about the money.

The AP notes that it found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton’s meetings in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Of course not — calendars don’t demonstrate such conflicts; they merely suggest them.

To move beyond the suggestive, we recommend Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash LP: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.