Hillary Clinton has never been great at understanding that, in politics, perception almost always equals reality. Witness this story that just broke from the Associated Press:
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
So, er, okay.
Let’s stipulate two things here before I go any further:
1. Correlation is not causation.
2. Quid pro quos are very, very, very hard to prove.
But, COME ON, MAN. It is literally impossible to look at those two paragraphs and not raise your eyebrows. Half of all of the nongovernmental people Clinton either met with or spoke to on the phone during her four years at the State Department were donors to the Clinton Foundation! HALF.
And those 85 people donated $156 million, which, according to my calculator, breaks down to an average contribution just north of $1.8 million. (Yes, I know that not everyone gave the same amount.)
It just plain looks bad. Really bad.
All by itself it means nothing, but it added to all the other drama, it’s more fuel for the fire.