When former congresswoman Corrine Brown reports to a federal prison this month to begin serving a five-year sentence for her role in an $800,000 charity fraud, the question will be raised about why she is in jail — but Hillary Clinton remains free.
That question and the fact Clinton has never been charged with mishandling classified national security documents during her four years as secretary of State raise serious doubts about whether justice is applied equally to powerful and influential citizens, as well as everyday Americans.
Brown, the African-American Democrat who represented Jacksonville, Florida, for many years, was convicted last year in a case that in dollar terms pales by comparison with the Clinton Foundation. The latter began in 1997 as the former president’s library but became the $2 billion entity described by one nonprofit expert as “the biggest charity fraud ever.”
That expert is Charles Ortel, who told LifeZette Sunday he expects former FBI Director James “Comey will rat out Hillary and the Clintons faster than [Olympic sprinter] Usain Bolt runs the 100-meter dash. Both Clintons will be convicted, bigly” in 2018.
The New York-based investment banker-turned-nonprofit-fraud-investigator first came to public attention in 2007 by exposing fraudulent accounting practices at General Electric and other major corporations and for warning of the then-approaching economic crisis that became the Great Recession of 2008.
Ortel since 2015 has exhaustively documented multiple instances of what he believes are the Clinton Foundation’s many major violations of charitable law and regulations, including most significantly operating international medical and disaster relief programs in violation of the nonprofit’s tax-exempt charter granted by the IRS.
He also believes former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, especially during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, used the family foundation as a vehicle for selling their influence and becoming wealthy in the process, thanks in great part to the lack of politically independent regulation of charities soliciting funds and operating programs in multiple countries around the globe.
Ortel claims “the sad truth is that international charities are perfect vehicles for influence-peddling, and for financial mischief, especially when they are overseen by conflicted directors/trustees, and ‘audited’ by under-resourced professional firms.”
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Clinton Foundation spokesmen have repeatedly denied Ortel’s allegations, claiming the nonprofit has never violated any U.S. law or charitable regulation. No charges have ever been brought against the foundation or any of its officers.
But the Clinton Foundation’s illegal international fundraising and operations could prove to be its undoing in 2018, according to Ortel. A major French government investigation has been in progress for months, and a similar probe is shaping up in Sweden, he said. The foundation has received millions of dollars from both governments and from private entities in those countries.
The French and Swedish investigations are in addition to the two known to have been conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI. The first was during then-President George W. Bush’s first term and was overseen by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2004 and 2005, reporting to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey. Nothing came of the Mueller-Comey probe.
The second U.S. investigation was first reported by The Daily Caller in a March 9, 2016, story that cited former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and an unnamed former FBI agent. That investigation was reportedly being conducted by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division.
A DOJ spokesman declined to either confirm or deny the investigation, and no indictments or reports are known to have been issued as a result of it. The Public Integrity probe was separate from the FBI investigation beginning in 2015 of Clinton’s use of a private server and email system while conducting official U.S. diplomatic business.
The email investigation was overseen by Comey, who succeeded Mueller as FBI Director. Revelations of Comey’s preferential treatment of Clinton and her top aides and his unprecedented absolution of her in July 2016 have prompted growing outrage among congressional Republicans.
The FBI chief “rewrote the statute” to “give Mrs. Clinton a pass.”
Comey told the nation he would not recommend prosecution of Clinton, even though at least 22 emails on her private server were found to contain highly classified material, and federal law stipulates jail time and other stiff penalties for gross negligence in handling such documents. The intent of the person mishandling the documents is irrelevant under the law.
In effect, according to former U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy, writing in National Review the day Comey announced his decision, the FBI chief “rewrote the statute” to “give Mrs. Clinton a pass.”
During the same period Clinton was being absolved of mishandling of classified material, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kristian Saucier got very different treatment for a vastly milder infraction of the same law.
Saucier used his cellphone to take photographs of the engine room of the USS Alexandria nuclear submarine, then destroyed the camera, memory card and a laptop linked to the images. Saucier could have gone to jail for 30 years or more, as originally charged but agreed to plead guilty to one charge of unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information, images the Navy considered “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.
“No charge of espionage was filed and no public suggestion has been made that he ever planned to disclose the photos to anyone outside the Navy,” reported Politico, which published many of Saucier’s images. Saucier was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $100.
“Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as ‘confidential/restricted,’ far less than Clinton’s 110 emails,” Saucier’s attorney, Derrick Hogan, told the court during the sentencing phase, adding in a clear reference to Clinton that it would be “unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid.”
The email issue isn’t going away for Clinton any time soon. Just this past week, the State Department released hundreds of emails from the Clinton server that were found by the FBI on a laptop owned by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). At least five of those emails contained highly classified information.
“The fact that classified information has been found from Clinton and Abedin on Weiner’s laptop shows the urgent need for a criminal investigation by the Justice Department,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. The emails were made public in litigation brought against the State Department by Judicial Watch.
Nobody gave Corrine Brown or Kristian Saucier the kind of passes Bill and Hillary Clinton have received for decades, so 2018 could be the year America decides if equal justice under law is a reality or a cruel joke.