Hillary Clinton's Younger, Poorer Brother

Tony Rodham on the Clintons: 'They've given me money all the time'

Tony Rodham hits the links with Bill Clinton in 1994. (AP)
May 11, 2015

Bill and Hillary Clinton love to use their influence to help their friends and donors (but what’s the difference?) get rich. Most of these cronies, however, have far more to offer in return than Hillary’s younger brother, Tony Rodham. (Note: Rodham, 60, is not very young.)

The New York Times reports that Rodham has exploited his ties to the Clintons to sustain a "career" in "business" that has otherwise been marred by setbacks. For example, he was recently invited to speak, oddly enough, at a launch party for a cosmetics company in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was touted as "the youngest brother of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton."

When the Times contacted the company, Wynn Beauty & Health, for comment, Rodham was subsequently removed from a promotional video and Facebook photo album from the event. The company insisted Rodham had been invited to appear "as a longtime friend offering congratulations."

The Times dug up transcripts from court proceedings—Rodham’s former attorney was suing him over unpaid legal bills from a child support case—that shed light on how Rodham views his relationship with the Clintons. "They’ve given me money all the time," Rodham said—for example, by paying for his son’s education.

At one point, Rodham described how Bill Clinton had helped him get a job soliciting investments for an electric car company owned by Hillary’s former campaign chairman and current Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. "I was complaining to my brother-in-law I didn’t have any money. And he asked McAuliffe to give me a job," Rodham said.

That job would entail, among other things, raising money from Chinese investors, several of whom were granted U.S. green cards, prompting allegations of a "visa-for-sale scheme." A March 2015 report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that the company, GreenTech Automotive, had received "unprecedented" and "politically motivated" special treatment from the agency that "created the appearance of favoritism."

Rodham also described trying to enlist Bill Clinton to facilitate a multi-million-dollar housing contract in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010. "I deal through the Clinton Foundation. That gets me in touch with the Haitian officials," Rodham said, according to a transcript. "I hound my brother-in-law, because it’s his fund that we’re going to get our money from. And he can’t do it until the Haitian government does it."

The housing project ultimately fell through, but Rodham has managed to secure other business ties in Haiti. Rodham joined the advisory board of U.S. company with gold-mining permits in Haiti after being introduced to the CEO at a Clinton Foundation event.

Rodham worked in a series of odd jobs, including repo man, prison guard, and private detective, before his brother-in-law was elected president in 1992. For some reason, this would provide the perfect opportunity for a career change. Following Bill Clinton’s election, the Times writes, Rodham became a "consultant and a deal maker," or to use a term than Rodham has used to described himself, a "facilitator."

In the late 1990s, Rodham received $400,000 after successfully "representing" two imprisoned clients—one who was pardoned, the other who had his sentence commuted by then-President Clinton.

Given his ties to two of the most powerful politicians in the country and their apparent willingness to help him out, it's pretty remarkable that Rodham has not managed to achieve Clinton-level success. One imagines his luck could change, however, if his sister is elected president.