Monday, January 4, 2010

The Long Lists of 2009

The year closed with its usual proliferation of lists, with several surprise additions. Two were impossibly long, yet sparse with real information. They are the Clinton Global Initiative donor list and White House visitor logs.

December 30 saw the White House release 25,000 visitors, albeit some were double counted. I searched David M. Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a huge private equity underwriter (PEU). He showed up six times, yet he only had three visits. The White House reclassified his 2-12 visit with POTUS from "Group Tour" to "Business Council Speech." One would expect the President of the Economic Club of Washington to warrant more than a group tour. Especially one with the foresight to call for the "mother of all economic stimulus packages" in October 2008.

Several Carlyle connections showed up on the Clinton Global Initiative donor list. Joint venture partner Robert L. Johnson gave between $1 million and $5 million. Further down the list was Bob's buddy Thomas F. "Mac" McLarty, Carlyle Senior Adviser. Mac's auto company kicked in as well. Carlyle affiliate Booz Allen Hamilton made the Clinton list.

Other CGI donors included a cornucopia of Wall Street firm, investment house, private equity underwriters, hedge funds and corporations living on the government tit, like AIG, Freddie Mac, CitiGroup and General Motors. Financial donors included Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers Holdings, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg LP, Chicago Climate Exchange, Apollo Management LP and UBS AG.

Other interesting names included Rahm Emanuel, Denise Rich, Erskine Bowles, Richard Holdbrooke, Vernon Jordan, Donna Shalala and Samuel Berger. Lobbying firms ponied up money for Clinton's Foundation, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, DUTKO Group, APCO Worldwide,

Two groups used the CGI as a middleman for commodity purchases, UNITAID and Jamaica. I don't understand the benefit of running a food buy through CGI. Does CGI or another group match the money?

This leads back to the gathering of big philanthropists in May 2009. Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and company discussed leveraging their donations to improve world problems. The same Bill Gates donated over $25 million to CGI and showed up twice on the White House visitor list. He met with President Obama and Larry Summers. What did one of the richest men in America ask from the White House?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants to shift U.S. foreign aid to private organizations, possibly matching funds for big philanthropists. The Clinton Global Initiative would be the beneficiary of such a change. Might CGI donor Benny Hinn benefit as well? Taxpayers will set up a $50 million endowment for Egypt.

As an aside, I noted the Bon Secours Health System gave to the CGI. Why would a regional nonprofit hospital system feel the need to donate $25,001 to $50,000 to Clinton's nonprofit? I smell the Government Industrial Monstrosity, Eisenhower's MIC on steroids. Health care, education, infrastructure and foreign aid are next for "modernization," the euphemism for Uncle Sam contracts out the work to a very profitable private sector.

On the openness front, the public should be grateful for the list release. The White House wouldn't confirm or deny the David M. Rubenstein on their list as a Carlyle Group co-founder. Surely they know David. Rahm Emanuel dined with Rubenstein at the Blue Duck Tavern?

Bill Clinton's Foundation listed a $10,001 to $25,000 donor as "T". Is that AT&T's ticker symbol or Mr. T. without the the "Mr."? The public is grateful for the information crumbs dropped from the rich man's table.

Update 4-27-15:  Five years later the public is now interested in the Clintons' slush fund