Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bill de Blasio and New York City's Clintongate Scandal: A Tale of Three Phonies--Part 2

(A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of the Lower East Side underground/alternative newspaper, “The Shadow”)

Bill de Blasio’s Bill Clinton Connection

In 1996 most anti-war and anti-corporate activists on the Lower East Side pretty much agreed with how Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity characterized former Arkansas governor and then-U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife—former Wal-Mart corporate board member and Rose corporate law firm partner and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton—in the 1996 book The Buying of The President:

“There is probably no case more instructive of the intersection of private and public interest and the incestuousness of Arkansas business and political elites than that somewhat complicated affair known as Whitewater…The point of Whitewater and Bill Clinton’s public service career in Arkansas is that long before the presidential election of 1992, his political identity as an accommodator of the largest most powerful monied interests was well established. While he was governor, millions of dollars in private favors at public expenses accrued to various companies and individuals, and Clinton’s professional career as a politician was supported by the Arkansas financial and political elites…

“…From 1983 until he resigned as governor in order to seek his party’s nomination for president, Clinton never really threatened the interests of the business elite, in some cases directly servicing them…Tyson Foods received roughly $12 million in tax breaks during the years Clinton was governor.

“In 1984 and in subsequent races, Tyson backed Clinton, not only at election time, but by allowing the governor to travel frequently on the Tyson corporate jet, picking up the tab on expensive meals, among other favors.

“For her part, Hillary Rodham Clinton was ensconced in the old, established Little Rock Rose law firm, which represented Tyson and other important corporate and financial interests in the state, including Stephens Inc., and Wal-Mart, among others. It was Tyson’s attorney, James Blair, who helped her make close to a 10,000 percent return on a $1,000 play in commodities training…Clinton and his inner circle of advisers…exempted themselves from…conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements…Meanwhile, he and his administration were notably laggard and unaggressive in halting Tyson’s polluting of rivers and streams…

“In 1991, a year after promising he would serve a full four-year term as governor if reelected, Clinton announced his candidacy for president of the United States

“Banking and financial interests were not bashful about supporting the Arkansas governor. In 1992, candidate Clinton received at least $853,295 in campaign contributions from the financial sector…And the company that produced more than $100,000 and the largest number of individual contributors was the New York-based securities firm Goldman Sachs…The Clinton administration has pursued and served the American business community more aggressively and more systematically than any previous administration…”

Yet Bill de Blasio—who, along with former Clinton White House Senior Advisor George Stephanapoulos, was chosen to be a Truman Scholar by the secretive Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in the early 1980s--still agreed to serve the Clintons as Bill Clinton’s New York campaign director during Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential re-election campaign; and during Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, “the Democratic Party accepted so many contributions of questionable origin that it ultimately was forced to return at least $2.8 million in illegal or improper donations,” according to Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity’s book The Buying of The President 2000. But—apparently as a reward for being Bill Clinton’s New York campaign director in 1996—de Blasio was then given a high-salaried, publicly-funded job as Regional Director for the Clinton Administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], which uses federal funds to provide lucrative corporate welfare subsidies to big private real estate developers and landlords who agree to build or rent privately-owned, but federally-subsidized, housing units for “moderate”-income, elderly and—sometimes--low-income tenants—on a generally for-profit basis.

So, not surprisingly, as recently as late September 2013, when asked by The New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick to indicate “what sort of mayor” of the Big Apple he would be, de Blasio “pointed to Bill Clinton, in whose administration he served, pointing out that the former president had…governed effectively,” according an article by John Cassidy that appeared in the Sept. 27, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.

(end of part 2)

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