How the Clintons Worked the Angles in Haiti

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, is joined by her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Pat Leahy at a new power plant during their visit to Caracol, Haiti, in 2012. PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/LARRY DOWNING
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, is joined by her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Pat Leahy at a new power plant during their visit to Caracol, Haiti, in 2012. PHOTO: AFP PHOTO/LARRY DOWNING

“It is the sense of Congress that transparency, accountability, democracy, and good governance are integral factors in any congressional decision regarding United States assistance, including assistance to Haiti.”

—Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014, section 4.

Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Clinton Cash,” has stirred up media and public interest partly by making the point that most of the dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton have been with poor countries with a weak rule of law. The U.S. legislation cited above singles out Haiti.

There could hardly be a better example of Clinton machinations undermining development. Congress is partly to blame and now seeks to make amends.

The U.S. Founding Fathers went out of their way to establish a republic guided by the rule of law and not the rule of men. If there is a singular principle that has set the U.S. apart from countries south of the Rio Grande it’s the checks and balances that protect against caudillo power.

Yet in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the Obama administration and Congress gave Bill Clinton carte blanche in handling hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to Haiti for recovery and reconstruction. This translated into enormous political power for the former president in the poorest country in the hemisphere, making him a de facto cacique.

Mr. Clinton loves to paint himself as a third-world redeemer, as he did in an interview in Africa with an NBC reporter that aired last week. The reporter asked about charges that the Clinton Foundation’s practice of pulling in big money from governments and wealthy donors during Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state was a conflict of interest. Mr. Clinton countered that he’s helping the poor.

As an NBC narrator described Clinton Foundation activities, the former president and his daughter were shown fitting locals with hearing aids. Pravda could not have crafted a better piece of propaganda.

Yet peel back the veneer of “charity” and one finds that the Clinton way has inflicted egregious harm on the poor in developing nations because it has undermined respect for the rule of law that is so necessary for economic growth. If a former president of the U.S. flouts anticorruption protocols, why should the locals get hung up on them?

Haitians learned about Mr. Clinton’s affinity for cronyism after he used the Marines to restore deposed Haitian strongman Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994. As I have documented in this column, “friends of Bill” subsequently were awarded, in secret, a sweetheart deal from the state-owned monopoly phone company, Haiti Teleco, that gave them a substantial edge over the prevailing, mandated long-distance rates set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Within two weeks of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, the word had already gone out from the State Department that Bill Clinton would be in charge of U.S. reconstruction efforts. “That means,” one individual told me and I reported in a Jan. 25, 2010 column, “if you don’t have Clinton connections, you won’t be in the game.”

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Source: Wall Street Journal | MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY