January 21, 2009—2014: While secretary of state, Clinton supports international business deals that benefit Boeing, a US-based airplane manufacturing company.

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, Boeing and the foreign countries involved in the deals donate to the Clinton Foundation and pay for speeches given by Bill Clinton.

  • In early 2009, Clinton begins working with Boeing to open up new business in Russia. Later in the year, Clinton visits Russia and makes what she describes as a “shameless pitch” to a Russian airline to buy Boeing passenger jets. In 2010, Boeing gets the deal, selling 50 jets worth $3.7 billion.
  • In 2009, China is preparing to host the 2010 world’s fair. However, it seems the US exhibit promoting US businesses will have to be cancelled, since the private fundraising efforts are going poorly. A State Department official warns that there likely will be “extremely widespread” consequences to both diplomatic and commercial interests if the US effort fails. Emails show that Clinton and other State Department officials push Boeing and other US companies to donate, and Boeing eventually gives $2 million, helping make the exhibit a success. US exposition organizer Nick Winslow will later say that he didn’t feel any political pressure, but, “Knowing that it was important to the State Department, did that help? Of course it did.”
  • In August 2010, Boeing donates $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation to support education projects in Haiti.
  • In February 2011, Boeing wins a $35 billion tanker-refueling contract for the US Air Force. Clinton had supported the bid. When she hears Boeing won, she writes in an email, “I’m pleased.”
  • In 2011, the State Department approves a series of weapons deals between Boeing and the government of Kuwait. For instance, Boeing is the prime contractor in a $690 million deal to give Kuwait military transport planes.
  • Later in 2011, Bill Clinton is paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation for a speech. Boeing is a sponsor of the event. Kuwait also continues to donate millions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary is secretary of state.
  • In late 2011, Clinton’s State Department approves an enormous weapons deal for Saudi Arabia. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing will deliver $30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to that country, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets built by Boeing. The deal takes place despite strong opposition from Israel, as well as concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and lack of democracy. But according to a State Department official, Clinton made the deal a personal “top priority.”
  • Saudi Arabia is prohibited from donating money to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state as part of a deal Clinton signed with the White House in 2008. But in previous years, the Saudi government gave at least $10 million to foundation. Additionally, private Saudi citizens and Saudi royals give millions to the foundation while she is in office. Then the Saudi government resumes donating to the foundation after she leaves office.
  • Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    In early 2012, the State Department helps Boeing secure major deals in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

  • In July 2012, Boeing pays Bill Clinton $250,000 for a speech.
  • In September 2012, Bill Clinton gives another speech sponsored by Boeing. He is paid $200,000.
  • In 2013, Boeing sponsored an event in St. Louis called Clinton Global Initiative University. It’s not clear how much Boeing donates, but it gives between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the event is part of the foundation’s work.

Lisa Gilbert, of the government integrity watchdog group Public Citizen, will later say that what the Clintons were doing likely was not illegal. However, it seems “unsavory.” (The Seattle Times, 3/21/2016Similar patterns can be seen with other US weapons manufacturers, like Lockheed, and other foreign governments, like Oman and Qatar. Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, will later say, “These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment. Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

August 11, 2016: Ethics experts say recently released emails indicate the spirit of Clinton’s pledges to keep the interests of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation was violated.

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Gilbert Chagoury (left) and Bill Clinton (right) attend a 2005 Pride of Heritage Banquet event in Beverly Hills, California. (Credit: ABC News)

Recently released Huma Abedin emails, from the time she was deputy chief of staff to Clinton, are widely reported in the mainstream media due to some emails that suggest possible conflicts of interest between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. For instance, in an April 2009 email exchange between Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band and Abedin, Band sought urgent access for Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who donated between $1 million and $5 million to the foundation and pledged an additional $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

On January 5, 2009, just prior to becoming secretary of state, Clinton wrote in a formal letter to a State Department ethics official: “For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate.” Additionally, a December 2008 memo of understanding was signed between the Obama administration and the Clinton Foundation that also limited how Clinton and her staff could interact with the foundation to avoid conflict of interest problems.

Politico reports that the emails between Abedin and Band regarding Chagoury “is the latest in a succession of emails suggesting Clinton staffers violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the ethics agreement Clinton had signed just months earlier.” “Several ethicists” agree that the emails suggest violations of Clinton’s ethics agreements.

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Meredith McGehee (Credit: Twitter)

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, says that the actual language of the pledge is “not surprisingly, very lawyerly … [and] there is an argument to be made that Clinton herself has not violated what was in the pledge.” But she adds, “Whether she or her aides have violated the spirit of the pledge … yeah, of course they have. The notion of continuing contact between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department — that was not supposed to happen.”

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Craig Holman (Credit: public domain)

Craig Holman, who works for Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group, says: “The Clinton Foundation was taking money from anybody who would give it, and the biggest contributions were from people who had business before the State Department. They didn’t follow the pledge. … I don’t think anyone in the foundation sought to deliberately violate the pledge, I just don’t think they cared about it.” (Politico, 8/11/2016)