In the hours just following a conference by WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange that left some disappointed for lacking an expected leak of information damaging to Hillary Clinton, another familiar source of leaks came to the foreground with leaks from the Clinton Foundation. “Guccifer 2.0” announced the document dump today with selected images of the findings.
The Clinton Foundation has denied any indications of a “breach” of the server. More specifically, a spokesperson said the documents were not from The Clinton Foundation: “None of the folders or files shown are from the Clinton Foundation.”
While foundation “breaches” have been denied before, this claim goes further and denies the authenticity of the documents. In the past, Guccifer 2.0 leaks appeared to be authentic. It would be strange to suddenly fake one and lose credibility. It would also be hard to create a fake with such specific information.
The page with the leaks includes spreadsheets with detailed information. This one, which was reduced in size, shows columns: Mail Name, Primary City, Primary Name, Primary Zip, West Sub Region, Primary Email Address, Primary Phone Number, Prefix, First Name, Last Name, Suffix, Middle Name, Employer, Occupation, Last Contributed Amount, Last Contributed Date, Largest Contributed Amount, Average Amount, etc. There are nearly 1000 entries in the spreadsheet.
Other hacked data includes email addresses and phone numbers.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF LEAK
Guccifer 2.0 described the leak:
Many of you have been waiting for this, some even asked me to do it. So, this is the moment. I hacked the Clinton Foundation server and downloaded hundreds of thousands of docs and donors’ databases. Hillary Clinton and her staff don’t even bother about the information security. It was just a matter of time to gain access to the Clinton Foundation server.
One of the folders shown on the list is actually called “Pay To Play.” The leaker surmised, “It looks like big banks and corporations agreed to donate to the Democrats a certain percentage of the allocated TARP funds.”
PAY TO PLAY
On one hand, social media is filled with assumptions of a “smoking gun” in the folder named “Pay To Play.” On the other, a quick check of the search engine shows that the term “Pay To Play” is commonly used to describe election disclosure forms. Partisans will believe which ever view fits into their narrative as investigators look deeper.
TARP or the Troubled Asset Relief Program was a law passed just before the 2008 election under claims that it would provide liquidity money to banks to prevent total financial collapse.
TARP was devised by the Republican administration at the time. Things moved very quickly. The George W. Bush administration with the assistance of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson promoted the bill and insisted upon its passage immediately.
There was extraordinary opposition in Congress — especially in the heat of the presidential election. After the bill failed, stock and commodities markets issued financial disapproval as urgency increased.
A new version was presented and the pressure was increased. Congress was told to pass it right away or there would be “martial law.” According to Democratic House Representative Brad Sherman at the time:
Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday, that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousands points the first day, another couple thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no… This is a Paulson-Bush power grab.
Paulson was Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Bush was George W. Bush of course. Henry Paulson would administer the $700 billion dollar pile of funds during his lame-duck period in office.
A few months later, Newsweek reported that “Tarp Funds Get Recycled As Political Contributions“:
A NEWSWEEK review of recent filings with the Federal Election Commission found that the political action committees of five big TARP recipients doled out $85,300 to members in the first two months of this year—with most of the cash going to those who serves on committees who oversee the TARP program.
BANK DONATIONS TO CLINTON FOUNDATION
Now, Guccifer is connecting donations years later with the TARP program and even suggesting some sort of mathematical relationship. The problem with this assertion is that banks donated money to partisans in both parties both before and after, and unfortunately for democracy in general, this looks just like business as usual.
In fact, the numbers indicate a different correlation. According to Open Secrets:
The financial sector is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties, with insurance companies, securities and investment firms, real estate interests and commercial banks providing the bulk of that money.
The sector contributed generous sums to both parties until 2010 when donations began to heavily bias Republicans, which likely reflects the finance industry’s interest in overturning the financial regulations from the Dodd-Frank Act, implemented to protect consumers from predatory lending practices and risky financial decisions from the industry… 62 percent of the funds given to candidates and parties went to Republicans. In 2012, the giving was even higher (as is the trend with presidential cycles) at $687,000; nearly 70 percent of the candidate and party gifts went to the GOP. (Emphasis added)
It is worth noting here that Republicans support deregulation of funding rules. Donald Trump is no exception as his campaign “CEO” Stephen Bannon was a long-time head of the group Citizens United whose lawsuit led to the notorious Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC. The 2010 Citizens United case repealed laws preventing unlimited funding for electioneering activities as violating First Amendment free speech. The case was decided on a 5-4 partisan basis.
In fact, Hillary Clinton has consistently maintained that she would like to see the unlimited electioneering case overturned.