Liberals like Elizabeth Warren want Hillary Clinton—who is potentially just days away from announcing a second White House run (her first was a failure)—to take a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal backed by the Obama administration.
Democrats are divided on the issue. President Obama has asked Congress for fast-track authority to negotiate the trade agreement, but party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have refused to sign on. Unions and other factions of the liberal base are highly skeptical, if not outright hostile toward the prospect of another free trade agreement. Many U.S. businesses interests, meanwhile, support the deal.
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This is a problem for Hillary Clinton, who has thus far avoided weighing in on difficult issues. (Writing "respect all lives" on Twitter doesn’t count.) On the one hand, she doesn’t want to upset the Democratic base. On the other, she really loves money, and U.S. corporations have a lot of it. It’s not hard guess which way Hillary is likely to lean on trade issues. Her husband, after all, signed NAFTA into law as president.
The more than 150 companies and associations the have formed a coalition in support of the TPP are currently unable to donate money directly to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But the list of companies backing the free trade deal includes dozens of major donors to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Companies who have signed on to the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP have donated a minimum of $21 million to the Clinton Foundation. The actual number is likely much higher than that because donations are disclosed in wide ranges. Major Clinton Foundation donors supporting the TPP include:
- Coca Cola ($5,000,000—$10,000,000)
- Wal-Mart ($2,000,000—$10,000,000)
- Citigroup ($1,500,000—$6,000,000)
- Dow Chemical ($1,025,000—$5,050,000)
- Boeing ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Exxon Mobile ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Microsoft ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Procter & Gamble ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Pfizer ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Toyota ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- General Electric ($500,000—$1,000,000)
- Monsanto ($500,000—$1,000,000)
- Nike ($500,000—$1,000,000)
- Visa ($500,000—$1,000,000)
- Morgan Stanley ($360,000—$775,000)
- Goldman Sachs ($250,000—$500,000)
A number of foreign governments involved in the TPP negotiations have also donated money to the foundation:
- Australia ($5,000,000—$10,000,000)
- Brunei ($1,000,000—$5,000,000)
- Canada ($250,000—$500,000)
Of course, the media has yet to uncover any evidence proving that these donations have influenced Clinton’s policy positions. However, a new report from International Business Times raises some troubling questions. In 2008, the report notes, Clinton (and Obama) ran against a proposed trade agreement with Colombia amid accusations of human rights violations against Colombian workers.
One of the Colombian companies accused of mistreating workers, oil firm Pacific Rubiales, was owned by Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra, a Clinton Foundation board member who has donated more than $130 million to Clinton charity groups. Giustra helped raise $1 million for a Clinton charity initiative just months after Congress approved the Colombian trade agreement in 2011. By that time, both Obama and Clinton had abandoned their initial opposition to the deal.
If Hillary ever comes clean on where she stands on this controversial issue, liberals may be disappointed.