by Peter Roff • U.S.News

So many shoes have dropped on the matter of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s conduct and ethics she’s starting to resemble former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos. No one else has as many shoes.

Now we find out, midway through the presidential campaign, that her family foundation was selling access to her while she was in charge at Foggy Bottom. Whether or not she actually did anything in exchange for the more than $100 million in contributions received – many coming from people ineligible to give to U.S. presidential campaigns – the point is clear: If you wanted access to the secretary you had to go through the foundation.

We’ve seen this kind of thing before, going back to the Arkansas days when Bill Clinton was the governor and she was busy at the Rose Law Firm. Everything with them is pay for play – even when there is no demonstrable pro quo to go along with the quid.

No one should be surprised, as an Associated Press analysis determined, that more than half of the 154 non-governmental officials with whom she met or had calls with while secretary were Clinton Foundation donors. Of those, 85 either donated directly to the foundation or “pledged commitments to its international programs” to the tune of $156 million.

At some point my colleagues in the media need to stop laughing about GOP paranoia and start looking into the facts. As long as Clinton is running against New York real estate developer Donald J. Trump though, they won’t, because – if you haven’t heard – Trump is reportedly mean and says mean things.

Back in the days of Reagan, the Washington Post – then as now house organ of the Democratic D.C. establishment – would have reported on allegations similar to those Clinton now faces as having been, if not criminal, clearly something that provided the appearance of a conflict of interest. That used to be the cue to round up the sharks and get them to circling because blood would soon be in the water. But for Clinton, as for her husband – who took sexual advantage of a confused, love struck White House intern young enough to have been his own daughter – the rules have always been different. They are never held to the same standards others in government have been, largely because the press has a rooting interest in their success as policymakers. Their intentions for the country are good and sincere and liberal enough to justify the dismissal of the charges against them.

The same is true for the so-called good government groups like Common Cause and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington who often work hand-in-glove with policymakers seeking to reform the laws governing the conduct of elected and appointed officials. Their silence on this latest Clinton scandal reveals them to be tools of the left, completely disinterested in their marquee issues when their friends and allies wander into crosshairs normally aimed at Republicans and conservatives.

There is no getting around the fact access to the secretary was a commodity leveraged by the Clinton Foundation just like overnights in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration. It was unseemly then and is unseemly now. It cheapens the institutions of government when access to our great institutions is routinely sold (sorry, there’s no other way to put it) to the highest bidders.

Trump is right when he talks about donors controlling the politicians through their donations; after all, that’s how he got both Clintons to come to his wedding to Melania. It shouldn’t all be suspect. Sometimes there really are genuine, longstanding friendships involved. And it is often the case that the money follows the politicians because of the positions they stake out rather than it being purely a case of the politicians following the money.

Not everyone in public life is a venal, corrupt and greedy as the folks around the Clinton Foundation which – it has to be said – has done some good in the world. So get those checks and bank drafts and deposits of bullion and petrodollars in now before the window closes if she indeed wins the presidency, as many expect she will. They already fleeced those who were naive enough to think a vague promise from either one of them was worth the cost of the meeting or phone call it took to get it.

If past behavior is any guide, the bright minds behind the selling of the secretary are already at work coming up with new ideas on how to secure contributions in the future. And you can bet, whatever they come up with, it will be a doozy.

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