Clinton And Colombia, A New NAFTA In The Making?

When speculating about Hillary Clinton and her financial dealings, you have to know all the players in order to make sense of the picture. And while her chief campaign strategist isn’t a new player, what his role is here could definitely be a conflict of interest!!!

Lobbyists aren’t supposed to be able to work on a campaign AND work for their clients at the same time, but here we have exactly that going on. From the Huffington Post we get this article:

Clinton Chief On Colombian Payroll Now Strategizing On Free Trade Deal

Posted April 4, 2008 | 09:58 AM (EST)

David Sirota
David Sirota

Ten months ago, I posed a very simple question right on this site: Can the Clinton machine deliver another NAFTA? I noted at the time that an army of former Clinton administration officials had been put on the Colombian government payroll to push a NAFTA-style free trade deal. These people — many waiting to get back into government should Hillary Clinton win — are making up to $100,000 a month from a murderous right-wing regime that is one of the worst human rights violators in the Western Hemisphere. Now, today, we see how high up the Clinton machine this corruption really goes.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s report today:

Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist met with Colombia’s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes. Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials. He wasn’t there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department…A spokesman for Colombia’s President Álvaro Uribe said the ambassador met with Mr. Penn to discuss the bilateral agenda. ..The spokesman said he didn’t know if Mr. Penn was representing Sen. Clinton or Burson-Marsteller, which signed a $300,000, one-year contract with the Colombian Embassy in March 2007 to work on behalf of the trade deal and anti-drug-trafficking initiatives, according to the Justice Department filings.” (emphasis added)

So there you have it — the person running a major American presidential campaign is simultaneously on the payroll of a foreign government pushing a bill that the next president would have to confront. And what’s truly telling about this is the part about the Colombian government not knowing whether Penn was representing the Clinton campaign or his business clients. Put another way, the two interests are apparently so similar, there’s almost no discernible difference — even to the foreign government lining Penn’s pocket. Clinton for President is the same thing as Burson -Marsteller for President, with Mark Penn as the Secretary of State-in-waiting.

There was a whole media storm over Barack Obama’s economic adviser meeting with the Canadian government. That storm erupted even though the story was leaked by a right-wing, pro-NAFTA government, and even though we have no idea what was said in that meeting. We will see if a bigger media storm erupts over the Clinton-Colombia connection, considering money is changing hands, and also considering Colombia is a far cry from Canada when it comes to human rights. It’s one thing to meet with Canadian officials, it’s another thing to be on the payroll of a government that is one of the murderous in the entire hemisphere.

The fact that this disgusting Clinton-Colombia pay-to-play relationship is happening, and nobody — not the media, not rival campaigns, nobody — has said a thing about it for almost a year shows just how rampant the culture of corruption is in Washington.

For more on Colombia’s record, see this post I did yesterday refuting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE: I forgot about this self-righteous nugget from Clinton during the Obama-Canada flap as reported by the Tribune:

Peering at the 50 or so reporters packed into a small hotel conference room here, [Clinton] added: “I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story… Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments.”

I guess we will see what the media will do…

Isn’t that just wonderful? No pleas for mercy from Clinton! No begging for special treatment huh? And how many fingers were pointing back at her when she pointed fingers at Obama? Uh huh…

So, I started reading backwards on the Huffington Post. I wanted to see just what David Sirota was talking about.

(Just a personal note, I really hate it when those who write only point to other things they write. I do not know how accurate their information is, I can only hope that it is.)

So then the next headline I read is:

SECRET TRADE DEAL: Can the Clinton Machine Deliver Another NAFTA?

Posted June 8, 2007 | 11:14 AM (EST)

Can the Clinton machine deliver another NAFTA? That is the question in Washington on trade these days, as dynamics similar to the NAFTA debate begins to take shape. The Colombian government, which has been tied to paramilitary gangs that execute union organizers, is spending lavishly to enlist top Clinton administration officials – including Hillary Clinton’s top campaign strategist and President Clinton himself – to pressure Democrats on Capitol Hill to pass the Colombian Free Trade Agreement – an agreement that is part of the bigger secret deal. This campaign is being backed up by a wide array of businesses such as Wal-Mart and Citigroup. To date, the legislative language of the secret trade deal has still not been released – but that hasn’t stopped the furious efforts to build a coalition of Clinton administration officials-turned-lobbyists, and a handful of top Democrats in Congress to ram the secret deal through Congress. Here is today’s report.

WSJ – COLOMBIA HIRING CLINTON-CONNECTED LOBBYISTS TO PUSH TRADE DEAL: In a situation eerily reminiscent of the merging of K Street and Democratic leaders during the push for NAFTA, the Wall Street Journal notes that currently, the Colombian government “is putting together a richly financed lobbying campaign piloted by ex-Clinton White House officials, complete with advertisements [and] a rapid-response media team,” spending “about $100,000 a month” on the campaign. This is the same Colombian government that the Washington Post reports regularly colludes with right-wing paramilitary gangs to execute union organizers, and whose “U.S. ambassador acknowledges that Colombia’s trade-union murder rate is the highest in the world.” Additionally, Reuters notes that “Colombia remains the world’s largest producer of cocaine” with the latest U.S. government figures showing the country produced “8 percent more coca leaf used to make the drug than a year earlier.” Nonetheless, the campaign to award Colombia with a free trade deal is being led by “the public-relations firm of Burson-Marsteller, headed by former Clinton pollster Mark Penn, who is also a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.” Penn’s “firm has set up a campaign-style operation to respond immediately to any critical news about Colombia.” Additionally, “Glover Park Group, which includes former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart and lobbyist Susan Brophy, works on Capitol Hill with the lobbying firm of Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland & Stewart Inc., including Republican Peter Madigan and another Clinton-administration lobbyist, William Danvers.” Meanwhile, “a business coalition, headed by Caterpillar Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Citigroup Inc., is making lobbying calls and is planning an advertising campaign to push the trade deal.”

Now, there was No punctuation in that paragraph and since I don’t know how the author wanted it, or anything else, I’ll have to leave it as it is. I’m sure it was there at one time but is now gone thanks to the fact that this article was probably archived and not very nicely. Yuk, but the information is still good.

And we were all over McCain for his staff lobbyists! There must be a severe shortage of people in Washington capable of doing the jobs these Candidates need done that they have to hire Lobbyists. Seems to me there is a wee bit of conflict of interest here. But that’s just me. And another NAFTA WE DO NOT NEED! Especially NOT with Uribe! Not unless every bit of war is stopped over there! That’s the only condition I would accept a trade agreement with that country on.

Well, I do hope this was a little informative. I’m still learning this new and massive upgrade they did on me.

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~ by justmytruth on April 4, 2008.

8 Responses to “Clinton And Colombia, A New NAFTA In The Making?”

  1. My thoughts go with you. I hope you get some satisfaction!

  2. Thanks justmytruth.

    Leaving for Washington DC tomorrow and will post on blog the Colombian Embassy’s response and Congress’.

    Best regards,

    Nick

  3. Thanks Jason,

    Glad you like them.

  4. You have a very detailed site. Thank you for sharing it with me. I appreciate it and really hope you get closure soon. I am sorry for you loss also. I’ll be checking back with you if that is all right?

  5. Well said, justmytruth.

    The Colombian government is very popular because it brought security, bedrock of any progress, to Colombia. But he is a flawed leader for Colombia; I am of course referring to his families ties to paramilitarism and his ties to Pablo Escobar. He has done a grest service to the country, undoubtedly, but we don’t know to what extent he, and the rest of the paramilitary leadership in the Casa de Narino, (wow how low we’ve gone) have been blackmailed by Bush and company to give up in to “the Washington consensus” or neoliberalism.
    This trade pact is also flawed because it was negotiated by the Bush regime whose very same policies of slash and burn against the American middle class has been overwhelmingly repudiated by the majority of Americans. Did you forget that Carlos ? It’s not just the unions, it’s solidly, the majority of Americans, as the recent and up coming elections have and will show.
    justmytruth I’d like for you to view my blog at blogspot.com. I have it set to only invitees at this point. You have my email in case you wish to accept my invitation. I’d really like to show it to you. I can be a fount of information for you as this Colombia issue gains momentum when it is forced, against the Democrat’s wishes, into Congress next week.
    For instance, my ex-wife’s uncle has been arrested for ties to paramilitaries; he was a Congressman for decades.
    My sister’s best friend growing up, her father was a Uribe minister and his brother was arrested for ties to paramilitaries.
    And, of course, my family has been the victim of the corrupt and murderous “political class” in Colombia. You can view the bounced check as well as all the evidence in relation to this massive fraud against the Colombian treasury and our family by a son of an ex-president of Colombia, which has been detailed to Congress, as my family are all Colombia and US citizens.

  6. I don’t approve a presidential candidate having dealings like this with another country and pointing fingers at another presidential candidate for the same things. I have no opinion about your situation personally.

    If you are from THIS country, then laws should be enforced here first before we look outside our borders.

    Also, MOST of the FTA so far HAVE hurt MY country. I’m not happy about that at all. So while I am sympathetic to you, I am in Love with MY Country First!

  7. Are you freaking kidding me?

    So,you don’t approve an FTA with my country (that won’t hurt your economy at all,and might mildly improve ours but will undoubtably strenghten your only ally in the region) just because we’re a country at war?

    A country at war with kidnappers,terrorists,child abusers and drug dealers who had done nothing more than destroy countless dreams and who are not willing to give up their attempts to force us into a communist dictatorship?

    I can tell you don’t have even the slightest idea of what’s going on in my country,or why Uribe is by far the most popular president our country has ever had.

  8. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

    Jason Whitmen

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