The Clinton MOU & the Clinton MO

The Washington Post has published an editorial gently reviewing the revelations in the emails released last week via the litigation of Judicial Watch with the State Department. The editorial concludes: “Should Ms. Clinton win in November, she will bring to the Oval Office a web of connections and potential conflicts of interest, developed over decades in private, public and, in the case of her family’s philanthropic work, quasi-public activities. As secretary, she pledged to keep her official world and her family’s foundation separate, and she failed to keep them separate enough. Such sloppiness would not be acceptable in the White House.”

Good to know. What are you going to do about it? And was it acceptable in the State Department during her tenure in office?

In December 2008 the Post published a slightly more perceptive (and slightly more biting) editorial on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Obama administration and the Clinton Foundation. In “The Clinton conflict” the Post correctly observed the limited nature of the constraints imposed by the Memorandum of Understanding. Even so, the Clinton Foundation failed to abide by its terms on at least one occasion.

Last week’s news prompted me to go back and take a look at the Memorandum of Understanding. Dated December 12, 2008, Clinton Foundation CEO Bruce Lindsey agreed with Obama transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett on its terms. It allowed governments which had previously donated to the foundation to continue to do so, but only at existing yearly levels. It detailed an ethics review process for new donating countries or countries that want to “materially increase” their support. Even within the narrow confines of the MOU, it did not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the United States government from continuing to give money to the foundation.

And it didn’t even touch on the nexus between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s tenure. The substantive provisions of the MOU are set forth in Section II and make up less than one page of the five-page document. In retrospect, the MOU reads like some kind of a joke. (The MOU is posted online here.)

Rush Limbaugh refers to the foundation as The Clinton Crime Family Foundation. The MOU represents the Clinton MO. The Clinton MO is the problem and there is no fixing it so long as the Clintons hold political power. It seems to me that this is the true conclusion implicit in the Post’s editorial today.