Reprinted from Media Matters
Adding to a cavalcade of campaign condemnations, a string of major newspaper editorial boards in recent weeks stepped forward to announce that, in the name of avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest, Bill and Hillary Clinton needed to shut down their successful Clinton Foundation.
Conceding that recent news reports hadn't proven any actual wrongdoing or lawbreaking with the foundation and its connection the State Department when Clinton was secretary of state, editorials from Washington Post, Boston Globe, and USA Today, among others, were nonetheless adamant: Shut it down.
Columnists at Slate, New York and The Wall Street Journal also jumped in, as did an array of TV talkers anxious to add their voices to the media choir demanding a global charity be shut down because the optics didn't look quite right. And several outlets insisted that waiting until after the election for foundation action wasn't "good enough."
Everyone, it seemed, was in heated agreement.
- "Even if they've done nothing illegal, the foundation will always look too much like a conflict of interest for comfort." (Boston Globe)
- "[T]he only way to eliminate the odor surrounding the foundation is to wind it down and put it in mothballs." (USA Today)
- "Impressions such as these are corrosive to national institutions." (Washington Post)
On and on the editorials went, patiently explaining to Clinton what she needed to do to eliminate budding concerns within the Beltway press; how she had to shutter her landmark charity in order to please the optics police.
Reading the proclamations, it was clear to readers that even the appearance of impropriety when it comes to politicians and charitable foundations must be met with swift, pro-active and even drastic action.
So what explains the deafening editorial board silence about the Donald J. Trump Foundation in the wake of the shocking news report that in 2013 it sent an illegal $25,000 donation to a political group supporting Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi? At a time, her office was considering opening a fraud investigation into Trump University and widespread allegations the company had cheated students. After the group supporting Bondi received the large Trump check, which she reportedly personally solicited, her office announced it wasn't going to investigate Trump University.