August 16, 2013

JAMES TARANTO: Queen Hillary? Political rent-seeking and her expected coronation.

What intrigues us is the way in which laws restricting political speech–in the areas of both campaign finance and taxation–are vital to, as Firestone puts it, “Ms. Clinton’s political future.”

We noted Tuesday that Mrs. Clinton is using her sinecure at the Clinton Foundation–a charity that is fully tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code–as a “formal apparatus” to prepare for a prospective campaign for president in 2016. Yesterday’s Times features a lengthy investigative report on the foundation. . . .

Difficult it no doubt is. It would be insurmountable if the Clintons (Bill in particular) lacked the star power that makes raising a $250 million endowment a feasible goal. That kind of money will enable the Clintons to buy the legal expertise to make sure everything they do complies with the letter of the law–no matter how shady it may seem to use a 501(c)(3) charity as a political vehicle. . . .

On Tuesday we asked if the Internal Revenue Service would investigate the Clinton Foundation for evidently acting as a front group for a political campaign. The question was facetious; as we wrote, the Obama IRS only goes after little guys.

The biggest problem with the IRS scandal, of course, is that it involved viewpoint discrimination: Conservative groups were at far greater risk than liberal ones of intrusive scrutiny. That is why one cannot rule out the possibility that the 2012 election was stolen on Obama’s behalf.

Democrats have tried to wave this problem away by pointing to a handful of unlucky lefties that got caught in the net. The scandal would be less severe if the IRS had in fact been evenhanded in its persecution of small political groups. But it would still have been a problem for American democracy, and the Clinton Foundation story shows why.

Read the whole thing.

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