WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A CBS News investigation reveals that a Chinese company pledged millions to the Clinton Foundation in 2013.
Rilin Enterprises, a privately-held Chinese construction company run by billionaire Wang Wenliang, pledged $2 million to the foundation two years ago. CBS News reports that the firm run by Wenliang, a delegate to the Chinese parliament, spent $1.4 million since 2012 to lobby Congress and the State Department. The firm also was one of the contractors that built the Chinese embassy in Washington.
Jim Mann, author of several books on China-U.S. relationships, told CBS News that the contract is a direct tie to the Chinese government.
With “embassy construction, one of the most important tasks is making sure there are no bugs there,” Mann told CBS News. “So you want to have the closest connection with the person or approval with the company.”
Mann continued, “If the point is you are not going to take money from foreign governments, then his construction company is as close to not just the Chinese government and as close to the Ministry of State Security as they could possibly be.”
A Rilin spokesperson says that Wang is very generous with his money.
“Mr. Wang has a long history of generous philanthropic giving to institutions of higher education and organizations that work on and promote global relations,” the spokesperson told CBS News. “The Clinton Foundation is one of many organizations Mr. Wang has donated to.”
The billionaire has also donated to New York University.
An analysis from CBS News shows the Clinton Foundation has raised at least $42 million from foreign governments and at least $170 million from foreign entities and individuals.
Hillary Clinton had hoped to spend much of March promoting her work on women’s issues. But that theme largely has been overshadowed by the email controversy and questions about the propriety of the Clinton Foundation accepting foreign contributions when she was secretary of state and after she left the Obama administration.
At 67, it will be a challenge for her to give off the “new car smell” that President Barack Obama once famously said American voters want.
Republican pollster David Winston said the idea of a female president holds obvious appeal but can only be taken so far.
“It gives her an opportunity to be listened to that will be helpful to her,” says Winston, “but she’s got to do something with that opportunity.”
Likewise, the idea of the first black president was a powerful part of Obama’s winning 2008 campaign but had limited impact in the end.
In exit polls, just 9 percent of 2008 voters said race was an important factor in their choice for president.
Andy Kohut, founding director of the Pew Research Center, said the Clintons — and they are largely viewed as a package deal — offer both dynamism and the risk of “Clinton fatigue,” from all the years of charges and allegations.
“There are so many parts to the puzzle,” he said. “They’re complicated people.”
If the past few weeks have proved anything, it’s that it will be challenging for Hillary Clinton to steer the conversation around all that and in a forward-looking direction.
“The thing about having baggage is that it’s something you always have to manage,” Winston says. “What she’s got to do, and she obviously struggled with it this week, is how do you manage it in such a way that it allows you to say the things you want to say?”
Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy within the next month. Aides think she will be able to more nimbly respond to controversies once she has a full campaign apparatus in place.
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