Hillary’s pay-for-play troubles, continued

Scroll for updates…nomination hearing liveblogging…12noon…not one tough GOP question about her ethics problems…Fla. Dem. Sen. Bill Nelson says her ties to Bill Clinton’s global foundation (and, by extension, his donors) only enhances her “credibility”…Lugar’s duh of the day: Bill shouldn’t accept any more money from foreign governments…Hillary mum…

I linked to a taste of Hillary Clinton’s pay-for-play problems last week.

Timed to her first SecofState nomination hearing today, the AP spills the beans of at least a half-dozen cases of Hill intervening on behalf of Bill’s donors.

When it rains, it pours:

Secretary of State appointee Hillary Rodham Clinton intervened at least six times in government issues directly affecting companies and others that later contributed to her husband’s foundation, an Associated Press review of her official correspondence found.The overlap of names on former President Bill Clinton’s foundation donor list and business interests whose issues she championed raises new questions about potential ethics conflicts between her official actions and her husband’s fundraising. The AP obtained three of the senator’s government letters under the Freedom of Information Act.Clinton was to begin her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Under an agreement with President-elect Barack Obama, Bill Clinton recently released the names of donors to his foundation, a nonprofit that has raised at least $492 million — including millions from foreign governments — to fund his library in Little Rock, Ark., and charitable efforts worldwide on such issues as AIDS, poverty and climate change.The letters and donations involve pharmaceutical companies and telecommunications and energy interests. An aide to the senator said she made no secret of her involvement in many of the issues. Bill Clinton’s foundation declined to say when it received the donations or precisely how much was contributed.

Pharma companies aren’t such greedy, evil corporate demons when they’re pouring money into hubby’s coffers, eh, Hill?

Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, company spokeswoman Amy Rose said. Merck joined CGI in 2006, when dues were $15,000, and also was a member in 2007 and in 2008, when membership dues rose to $20,000. As part of its commitment to CGI, Merck sponsors public health initiatives around the world, Rose said. Merck joined CGI on its own initiative, she said.Sen. Clinton wrote a November 2005 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt urging approval of the human papillomavirus vaccine. Merck applied in December 2005 for approval of its HPV vaccine, Gardasil, and the vaccine was approved for use in females ages 9 to 26. Merck is still seeking approval for use in older women, Rose said.Rose said Merck’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative was unrelated to Sen. Clinton’s letter. Merck didn’t communicate with Clinton or her office about its HPV vaccine and was unaware of her letter before it was sent, Rose said.Another letter involved an issue important to Barr Laboratories. Sens. Clinton and Patty Murray, D-Wash., wrote to Leavitt in August 2005 urging that “science, not politics” guide the agency and “that a decision be brought swiftly on Plan B’s application.” Leavitt’s office described the Clinton letter as pertaining to Barr’s application for Plan B, the emergency contraceptive also called the morning-after pill.Barr Laboratories gave $10,001 to $25,000 to Clinton foundation, the charity’s donor list shows. Barr joined the Clinton Global Initiative in April 2007, spokeswoman Carol Cox said. Cox didn’t comment on Clinton’s letter.

Commenter Flyoverman wonders if feckless Republicans will be hands-off with John McCain’s good friend: “My fear is no Republican is going to call her out on these kinds of things at the confirmation hearings. Republicans ‘do the dance’ when confronted with these issues. Conversely, Democrats have no problem ‘Borking’ conservative nominees whenever they can. It makes blood shoot out of my eyes Republicans are such wimps. The truth is the truth and it should not be swept under a rug in the name of bipartisanship.”

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Update: Hillary’s giving her statement on how she’ll fix the world. Can’t help thinking of her classic mocking of Obama. Remember?

“The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.”

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Update: Scenes from the nomination hearing…

*Barbara Boxer praises Hillary for “setting aside her ego” and “helping her greatest rival” for “the good of the country.”

Boxer adds: “And I mean that sincerely.”

*Crybaby George Voinovich is blubbering effusively about Hillary’s “Smart Power.”

*Lugar’s duh of the day: Bill shouldn’t accept any more money from foreign governments…Hillary mum.

*Fla. Dem. Sen. Bill Nelson says her ties to Bill Clinton’s global foundation (and, by extension, his donors) only enhances her “credibility.” GOP senators sit by and do and say nothing.

Posted in: Hillary Clinton

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