[Guest post by hit and run*]
Okay, okay, we'll continue as soon as you stop laughing.
But this is an interesting question: Did the Clintons violate the Foreign Corruption Practices Act?
Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway took a look at the question - over a month ago, mind you - regarding an Algeria gift to the Clinton Foundation. She compares that to the fines levied against US pharmaceutical companies for donating to a Polish charity:
In 2011 and 2012, the Obama administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission levied large penalties against U.S. pharmaceutical companies for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. These included Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly and Company. Among the charges was making donations to a charitable foundation in Poland.
That charitable foundation was run by an official with a regional health ministry who had the authority to make pharmaceutical purchasing decisions. The charitable foundation was legitimate and the foundation’s work was for a good cause. But the U.S. government found that the donation still had a corrupt purpose.
Eli Lilly ultimately parted with more than $29M in a settlement with the SEC over the charges. Keep on reading at the link where Hemingway has much more, including quotes from the head of the SEC’s enforcement division, Andrew Ceresney (not directly on the matter of Hillary, but about the Eli Lilly case).
Meanwhile, Richard Cassin, the editor of the FCPA Blog, has now taken a look at the matter as a result of the New York Times article that came out yesterday. His take centers on Bill Clinton:
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits giving or promising to give anything of value to a foreign official to obtain or retain business. Individuals who violate the FCPA can be jailed for up to five years. A copy of the statute is here (pdf).
Did Bill Clinton give Nursultan Nazarbayev "anything of value" by supporting his bid to head an international elections monitoring group? The Times called Clinton's support "a propaganda coup" for the Kazakh president. That suggests lots of reputational value to Nazarbayev.
Much, much more at the link. But before anyone starts imagining big fines being levied or even Hillary in an orange pantjumpsuit, it is worth noting that Cassin makes a similar point in several different ways:
There haven't been any FCPA enforcement actions based entirely on the giving of non-financial benefits. [...]
The FCPA has never been used to prosecute apparent political favors, such as those described in the New York Times story. [...]
No FCPA enforcement action has been based on an alleged business nexus as indirect as Giustra's contributions to the Clinton Foundation.
And while "there's a first time for everything" is a well-known phrase, it is also well-known that nobody does scandal consequence avoidance like the Clintons.
So while we are not holding our breath, let's at least Keep Hope Alive.
THIS IS SOOOO LAST CENTURY: The FCPA was passed in 1977. But in 1998, the US partnered with an array of other countries under the umbrella of the OECD to put in place a more global structure to target international corruption/bribery. The US was previously at a disadvantage because other countries willfully engaged in bribery and/or allowed their companies to do so, where US companies could not.
As a result, Congress passed new legislation amending the original FCPA. Here is President Clinton's signing statement on International Anti-Bribery and Fair Competition Act of 1998. In part it reads:
The United States has led the effort to curb international bribery. We have long believed bribery is inconsistent with democratic values, such as good governance and the rule of law. It is also contrary to basic principles of fair competition and harmful to efforts to promote economic development.
Well. The ideas of democratic values, fair competition and economic development don't seem to be worth the paper they're written on pixels used to display them when they come in conflict with a Clinton making money. Oh, and the whole rule of law thing. That's not much of an impediment either, apparently.