Tags: Trump Administration | Hillary Clinton | Unions | Hillary Clinton | donations | foundation | Colombia

Report: Donations to Clinton Foundation May Have Swayed US Policy

By    |   Friday, 10 April 2015 05:54 PM

Massive donations from an oil magnate to the Clinton Foundation may have influenced the United States’ decision to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses carried out in the nation of Colombia, according to an explosive investigation published Thursday by the International Business Times.

The report says that union leaders and human rights activists were, in 2011, pressuring the United States to take action after violent confrontations between the Colombian military and striking workers at the nation’s largest independent oil company.

But instead of speaking out against the anti-union violence in Colombia, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was praising the nation’s record on human rights and forging a relationship with the head of Pacific Rubiales, the oil company at the center of the strife.

The allegations come just days before Hillary Clinton is expected formally to announce her candidacy for president.

According to the IBT, the oil company, pledged millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. The company’s founder, Frank Giustra, now sits on the foundation’s board.

In a Wall Street Journal story from 2008, Giustra is described as "a friend and traveling companion" to former president Bill Clinton.

According to the Clinton Foundation’s own website, Giustra donated more than $25 million to the philanthropic organization.

The three reporters who worked on the IBT piece admit that the financial dealings remain a bit murky, but say this much is clear:

"After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it 'strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.' The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra."

It may not have been the first time Giustra and the Clintons engaged in an international quid-pro-quo. In 2008, The New York Times reported on how Bill Clinton helped Giustra land a multimillion-dollar mining deal in Kazakhstan, another nation with a poor track record on human rights. Shortly after the deal was done, Giustra donated more than $3 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Labor unions make up a huge portion of the Democratic Party base, but the labor movement and the Clintons have never been close. This seems unlikely to bring them closer.

During the unrest in 2011, labor activists in the United States wrote letters to high-ranking public officials asking for the federal government to put pressure on Colombia.

One such letter came from the very top. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, wrote to the White House in November 2011 to ask U.S. officials to help de-escalate the crisis.

"The AFL-CIO is concerned that the Colombian government is not committed to securing fundamental labor rights for its citizens," Trumka wrote, citing the nation’s use of military force to disrupt strikes.

A few months later, the U.S. State Department, led by Clinton, lauded the Colombia government for its progress on human rights.

"The government generally continued to respect and recognize the important role of human rights defenders, publicly condemning threats and attacks against them, and seeking their input on public policies," a spokesperson for the department said at the time.

Columbia, however, is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for labor union supporters, according to the U.S. Labor Education In The Americas Project, a pro-union nonprofit. In 2011, more than 29 people were murdered for backing unions, the group says.

This is only the latest in a series of high-profile inquiries into the Clintons and the political connections that exist between their foundation and powerful international figures.

After exposing the high number of foreign donors to the foundation, The New York Times called for the Clintons to ban all such donations if Hillary ran for president.

Watchdog.org has detailed the connections between the Clintons and their close friend Terry McAuliffe, a failed green energy entrepreneur and former head of the Clinton Foundation who is now the Democratic governor of Virginia.

Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes.

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Massive donations from an oil magnate to the Clinton Foundation may have influenced the United States' decision to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses carried out in the nation of Colombia, according to an investigation by the International Business Times.
Hillary Clinton, donations, foundation, Colombia, labor unions, secretary of state, US, foreign policy, Trumka, AFL-CIO
Friday, 10 April 2015 05:54 PM
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