The thing about the controversies shaking Hillary Clinton's still-not-yet-presidential campaign is how utterly predictable they are.
For example, communications that were supposed to be preserved turning up missing or deleted? We've heard that before. And now questions about sketchy foreign donations, and failures to disclose them? Somehow, that one seems familiar too. (Yes, James Carville, some of us do remember those long-ago controversies.)
Friday's news actually brings two, somewhat-related stories about questionable practices at the Clinton Foundation, the charitable organization that Bill Clinton created after leaving the White House. Reuters notes that when she became secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton pledged to President Obama that the foundation would issue an annual report of all of its donors, to ease worries about foreign influence on the nation's top diplomat. That promise soon fell by the wayside, though: The Clinton Health Access Initiative, by far the foundation's largest element, hasn't issued a report since 2010. (CHAI was spun off that year, but remains subject to the same rules.) An official acknowledged the mistake.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal notes that while the foundation also forswore donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was helming the State Department, "that didn’t stop the foundation from raising millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments, a review of foundation disclosures shows." Specifically:
One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.
All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.
The problem here isn't that the Clinton Foundation wasn't following the rules. As with the email controversy, where there's evidence that the letter (though not the spirit) of public-records laws was followed, the problem here is with the rules themselves. It's hard to imagine any guideline that could avoid any suggestion that foreign actors were trying to influence Hillary Clinton, but also allow the Clinton Foundation to continue supporting its work. How many global donors have no connection to a foreign government?