Hacked emails released by pro-transparency group Wikileaks this week purportedly show Hillary Clinton’s campaign accepted donations from foreign lobbyists just days after the Clinton Foundation said it would limit it.
The personal emails from the Clinton campaign purportedly show a conversation between Clinton’s top aides debating whether to accept money raised by lobbyists of foreign interests outside of the countries the Clinton Foundation said it would only accept from.
An email chain between Clinton campaign spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri, campaign chairman John Podesta, finance director Dennis Cheng, and others, show how the campaign debated whether to accept donations from those who have registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
“We really need make a policy decision on this soon – whether we are allowing those lobbying on behalf of foreign governments to raise $ for the campaign. Or case by case,” Cheng apparently wrote on April 13, 2015, just one day after Clinton announced her bid for the White House.
On April 15, the Clinton Foundation announced it would only accept donations from Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
As U.S. political analysis website Politico points out, the email chain dragged on for five days as the aides went back and forth debating the funding from other governments.
“This is really a straight up political call. One middle option is to take case by case. If, for example, they are FARA registered for Canada, we may not case. If for N. Korea we would,” Marc Elias, Clinton campaign’s general counsel wrote.
According to the hacked email, after more debate the team decided to discuss the acceptance of funds via conference call.
“Following up on the call from 9:30. The policy would be to not allow any currently registered foreign agents (those who register with FARA) to contribute or raise for the campaign,” wrote campaign worker Karuna Seshasai. “If someone terminates their registration, they would be allowed to contribute or raise for the campaign.”
“Marc, we’d especially like your perspective on adopting this policy..” she wrote.
After more debate, Cheng pushed for a decision.
“Hi all – we really need to make a final decision on this. We’re getting to the point of no return…,” Cheng wrote.
Campaign manager Robby Mook chimed in offering to fall on the sword regarding any fallout from accepting the funds.
“I’m ok just taking the money and dealing with any attacks. Are you guys ok with that?” Mook wrote.
“Take the money!!” Palmieri responded to the group.
Apparently the final decision was then made to accept the nearly $700,000 in donations and it was all done without Clinton’s knowing.
In another leaked email, a long-time senior Clinton aide wrote to Mook that the presidential nominee was unware the campaign was accepting the funding.
“HRC read in paper that we are taking FARA money. We are going to discuss today in Elias meeting,” Huma Abedin wrote.
“She doesn’t want to?” Mook wrote.
“She just didnt know that we had decided to accept it wanted to know who the individuals are and wants to weigh in,” the aide replied.
With nearly three weeks to go to the general election, Wikileaks have released hundreds of Clinton campaign emails.