Sunday, May 27, 2007

# Posted 2:03 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HOW TO BUY A PRESIDENT'S FRIENDSHIP: Some conservatives vehemently oppose John McCain's efforts to clamp down on political donations. If you happen to be one of those conservatives, then you shouldn't be too worried about the influence of reformers like McCain, because there continue to be perfectly legal ways of spending millions of dollars to influence a candidate.

On the front page of yesterday's WaPo, there was a story entitled Largess To Clintons Lands CEO In Lawsuit. To be perfectly clear, neither Bill nor Hillary nor their patron, Vinod Gupta, did anything wrong from a legal perspective. Yet there is growing resentment among the shareholders in Gupta's firm, InfoUSA, who believe he is wasting millions of dollars of corporate funds on the Clinton's friendships. So these shareholders are taking Gupta to court.

So, how did Gupta legally expend those millions on Bill and Hillary? The Post reports:
For the past four years, the Clintons have jetted around on Vinod Gupta's corporate plane, to Switzerland, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico -- $900,000 worth of travel. The former president secured a $3.3 million consulting deal with Gupta's technology firm. His presidential library got a six-figure gift, too...

Gupta is a well-known figure in the high-tech world in India who met Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s and quickly became a generous patron. He and his company donated at least $1 million to help underwrite a lavish millennium New Year's Eve celebration at the White House and on the Mall, and he paid the former president $200,000 to deliver a speech to InfoUSA executives in Papillion, Neb.

Gupta also gave a six-figure gift to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, $250,000 to the former president's global charity, and more than $220,000 to the Democratic Party during Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign. In December, Gupta gave the maximum $5,000 to the senator's political action committee, which was helping to lay the groundwork for her 2008 presidential bid.
No wrongdoing here. But in exchange for Gupta's quid, there were some very nice pro quos:
Gupta has enjoyed his own benefits from his relationship with the Clintons. Bill Clinton offered him two diplomatic posts -- as U.S. counsel general to Bermuda and as U.S. ambassador to Fiji -- that he did not take. The president appointed him to the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center Board of Trustees during his last week in office.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton agreed to lend their names to technology schools that Gupta financed in rural India.
It's well known, of course, that political appointments have been for sale for a very, very long time. Presidents of both parties have considered it necessary to reward loyal friends.

We'll never take money out of politics, but I'd certainly prefer a system where these kinds of perks are not for sale.

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(21) opinions -- Add your opinion

While I'm not too happy about McCain's efforts to clamp down on political donations, (I don't think any honest reading of the Constitution gives Congress this power.) it's his efforts to clamp down on political speech that really draw my ire. And so, the fact that 'reform' efforts like McCain's really do little to prevent political bribery/extortion payments is scarcely any consolation as I'm progressively more gagged with each new law.
Yeah, the Clintons...

Though, while I like a little Clinton 'bashing', I'm not quite sure why a foreign policy site skips over the thousands of other relevant, every-day topics to deliver another predictable swipe at some unliked democrats. And to Hurrah McCain one more time...

I know you'll say, 'but this post is about politics/political donations - what's your problem?'. O.k.

It's just a content thing I guess. And it has been endemic.

"Some conservatives vehemently oppose John McCain's efforts to clamp down on political donations."
I second Brett's comments.

All McCain Feingold did was move the money away from the political parties. It created a whole new area of political funding. The restrictions favor someone like Soros so much that if one was a conspiracy theorist you might think he might have had something to do with getting the legislation enacted.

Wait a minute. He did campaign vigorously for changes tampaign finance laws.

Last line should read:

changes to campaign finance laws.

Re. the posts plug for McCain. When the history books are written McCain's contibution will be highlighted for the corruption known as the McCain Feingold campaign finance legislation.

The Supreme court will eventually overule the more egregious aspects of the legislation.
Gupta turned down a post as U.S. Ambassador to Bermuda?!?

Sounds like he has an insanity defense available.
I bet he was shooting for that Director of FEMA appointment
Well, aren't we ignoring the 300-lb. gorilla in the room?

He's still pouring money on Ex President Bill but buying influence with God Help Us Future President Hil.
Of course, this pales in comparison to the amount that Ken Lay and Enron gave to George W. Bush, and it pales in comparison to the influence granted in return.
Anonymous - would that be the same Enron whose senior officers were tried and imprisoned, whose accounting firm was bankrupted in large part by an Executive Branch investigation, and whose law firm only just avoided prosecution? That influential Enron?

I think it is the same Enron, but the investigation was really done by the WSJ. The prosecution happened well after Enron's collapse.

Bush's own response during the manipulated energy crisis was "At first blush, for those struggling to pay high energy bills, price caps may sound appealing. But their result will ultimately be more serious shortages and, therefore, even higher prices." This was a convenient piece of rhetoric which defended his largest contributor's crime.

But it's definitely the same Ken Lay that was one of the five members of the Bush's Energy Department Transition Team.

So when Republicans complain about selling influence, they know about selling influence.
Ah, the Wall Street Journal, that bastion of Democratic influence. Wonder why it wasn't the NYT? Wouldn't happen to be who the junior Senator from NY was? Naaahhhhh!
I'm hearing Gupta, India, high-tech, technology schools, Clinton, political influence....

Would Gupta have anything to do with U.S. offshore technology outsourcing?
I wonder what privacy rights activists would make of this. What the story about InfoUSA doesn't make explicit is that InfoUSA is one of the leading mailing list providers in the US. There probably isn't anyone in America unless they are a hermit that hasn't gotten some piece of junk mail as a result of InfoUSA's mailing lists.

Could it be that he is trying to make sure his business isn't impacted by attempts to address privacy concerns?
The NYTimes did a pretty good job as well. But you'd expect the WSJ to lead on a story like this. And with the exception of their op-ed page, it did. But even when that right wing op-ed page threw in the towel on Enron, it tried to change the subject to Whitewater.

Just like you move the Guptergate story back to Enron. Lets not forget that the Dems had their pockets into Enron's wallets far more than the Republicans.
You're right. Enron is so Y2K. I should have been trying to change the subject to Senator Ted Stevens. My mistake.
Today, Ms. Clinton wooed Silicon Valley campaign donors and voters Thursday with a plan to create more high-paying jobs and maintain U.S. dominance in technology.

"We need to guide immigration reform to attract and retain foreign-born students who want to work in the United States."

For the past four years, the Clintons have jetted around on Vinod Gupta's corporate plane, to Switzerland, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico -- $900,000 worth of travel.

Do those geniuses in SV know what Clinton was saying? Gupta is her H1B target and an offshore call center. ?We want more highly paid 'merikans...? Well, they are Indians aren't they?

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iStrat is a Management, Technology & Research Consulting company, founded by a highly experienced & qualified team-predominantly consisting of alumni of top US (Ivy Leagues-Columbia University, New York; Cornell University, Ithaca; University of California, Irvine etc.) & Indian Universities-Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT's) & National Institutes of Technology (NIT's) and Professional Institutes (ICAI, DMA, IIIE)-focusing on strategic consulting & streamlining Enterprise Business and Technology Processes using Technology Enabled Solutions and providing research & development services.
Only one comment of 19 here even alludes to the sleasy nature of Mr. Gupta's business. I heard somewhere most of his success was based on frightening old people with highly questionable mail solicitations for highly dubious goods and services, coupled with re-sale of the names of proven suckers, sometimes to people with even fewer scruples than he has. Gupta's profile fits nicely with that of many other "friends of Bill."
"special deals", " deep discounts", "clearance items", "cheap merchandise", and "special coupon offers". From the appearance, they look almost the same with the original ones. Nike Air Max
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