Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
In two weeks, Hillary Clinton makes her first foray out to Los Angeles since announcing her 2016 bid. It’s a fundraising swing, with the candidate rattling her tin cup for entertainment industry luminaries who largely abandoned her in favor of a fresher-faced upstart in 2008. But this weekend, as Hollywood heavies travel the other direction for the annual glitz parade known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, another category of Clinton money looms large. Specifically, revelations about the sums the Clinton Foundation received from foreign governments and corporations are generating new headaches for the Democrat’s campaign — and another round of questions about her ethical blind spots.
A New York Times report detailing a Canadian mining company’s donations to the Clinton nonprofit as it sought approval from Clinton’s State Department to sell its uranium business to Russia sent the Clinton camp into damage control mode, an increasingly familiar gear for such a nascent operation. But the head-on engagement from Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters isn’t quieting critics. On Friday afternoon, the campaign finance watchdogs at Common Cause called for an outside audit of the foundation’s biggest contributors. Other good-government types are keeping up a drumbeat for the outfit to stop accepting all foreign money, instead of drawing arbitrary distinctions around certain countries. And on Sunday morning, Dinner guests nursing hangovers — and anyone else— tuning into Fox News Sunday and ABC’s This Week will hear from Peter Schweizer, a conservative journalist whose forthcoming book “Clinton Cash” provided the grist for the New York Times report, among other revelations about Clintonworld’s complex finances.
Clinton brass has taken pains to signal they won’t repeat the trench warfare that helped sink her 2008 campaign. So it’s odd to see them still brandishing shovels and bayonets, while foreign money continues pouring into foundation coffers and rewarding former President Bill Clinton’s speeches.
Is it any mystery where this is headed? To put it in Tinseltown terms, with an ending this obvious, Hillary needs to rewrite the script.
• Sniping, at home and abroad, threatens quick action on trade
President Obama is sharpening his critique of the forces within his own party opposed to handing him fast-track negotiating authority on trade deals. The president on Thursday said his liberal critics “don’t know what they’re talking about” in the escalating intra-party feud, even comparing misinformation on the left to the right-wingers who stoked fears of “death panels” during the debate over his healthcare overhaul. But even if lawmakers give the administration extra wiggle room to hammer out pacts, real work remains. On the Trans Pacific Partnership, the massive trade deal linking 12 Pacific Rim economies, the U.S. and Japan still need to forge agreements on the treatment of autos and agriculture. Fortune
• Newest sign of a Christie bid: His wife just quit her Wall Street gig
Mary Pat Christie, the wife of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has resigned her post as a managing director at investment firm Angelo, Gordon — another indication the Republican guv is moving toward a 2016 presidential run. Mary Pat pulled in more than a half-million dollars a year in the job, making her the Christie clan’s primary breadwinner. But with Gov. Christie stepping up his travel schedule ahead of a likely campaign, she’s expected to join him on the trail, pulling her away from the office. Fox Business
• McClendon could be facing Justice Department heat
Aubrey McClendon — the, ahem, colorful former CEO of Chesapeake Energy — is facing a Justice Department probe into potential antitrust violations related to leasing oil and gas properties. That the feds were scrutinizing Chesapeake was already known. McClendon’s personal exposure is a new wrinkle. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• The Kochs are just here to help
Their secrecy combined with the process-warping sums they plow into conservative causes have cemented brothers Charles and David Koch’s reputation as dangerous, unaccountable puppet masters, at least on the left. In a new interview, Charles Koch seeks to tweak that profile. The only motivation behind their activism is to “increase well being in society,” he says. Koch calls it “ludicrous” that critics charge their involvement aims to goose Koch Industries’ bottom line, pointing to potential losses at his Minnesota oil refinery if the Koch-backed Keystone XL pipeline gets built and his opposition to the Export-Import Bank, which he’s blasted as a source of crony capitalism. USA Today
• Congressman doesn’t disclose conflict in protecting airlines from disclosure
Last week, we brought you an eyebrow-raiser from Politico uncovering that Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House transportation committee, is dating a lobbyist for the airline industry while he directs a sweeping overhaul of aviation rules. The outlet follows up with a report on how the Pennsylvania Republican hustled a bill through his panel that his then-secret girlfriend’s group is pushing. The measure would allow airlines to advertise the base price of tickets without including taxes and fees. Politico