In January, 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned Robert H. Wendt, an attorney who had a criminal conviction on his record for attempting to help a convicted felon escape.
In an op-ed published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wendt reveals his sense of loyalty and indebtedness to both of the Clintons.
“In January 2001, President Clinton granted me an unconditional pardon from a criminal conviction in 1981 in the St. Louis federal district court. I know that Hillary Clinton was instrumental in her husband’s decision.”
By the next paragraph, Wendt, who had served four-and-a-half months in prison for his conviction, revealed why he’d made the difficult decision to eschew the loyalty he feels toward Clinton and endorse Sanders.
“Because of this great personal debt and my deep belief in loyalty, it may seem both curious and disloyal that I urge my fellow citizens to get behind Bernie Sanders. I do so because of my deep belief that Sen. Sanders is leading a political revolution that has the only real chance of restoring democracy to America.”
He discussed the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, the struggle for racial equality, and how Dr. King would be “aghast” at the amount of income inequality in the nation today. And then he dropped the bomb.
“The sad fact is that the Clintons are on the wrong side of this issue. They have become part of the Wall Street crowd. Hillary Clinton simply will not reform our broken economic system; she is part of it.”
He then issued a plea to his friends in the Black community to vote for Bernie Sanders and to shrug off the burden of personal loyalty.
“I implore my African-American friends to support Sen. Sanders because he, not Clinton, offers the only real chance to address the economic grievances of the black community. I have heard some leaders of this community say that Sen. Sanders’ goals…are too bold and that they feel loyal to the Clintons.”
Wendt’s endorsement comes at a critical juncture of the Democratic primary race. While Hillary Clinton remains the official frontrunner, Sanders continues to gain on her, and the second Super Tuesday on March 15 could be pivotal in determining just how far Sanders can get in his quest for the highest office in the nation.
As Sanders surges in the polls, Clinton’s attacks have become less brutal and more bemusing. In a recent appearance in Missouri, Clinton attempted to paint Sanders as behind her in terms of his commitment to health care access. The truth is, however, that since 1992, before Bill Clinton even won the nomination, Sanders reached out to Hillary Clinton to talk about access to health care.
A Politico story from June 2015 details the relationship between Bernie and Hillary dating back to May 1992. From the start, Sanders has tried to nudge Clinton to the left on healthcare issues. Her “I don’t know where he was” comment regarding her battle for universal health care last week is not just unfortunate, it’s dishonest.
Another surprise endorsement came last week when Venezuelan human rights advocate and film maker Thor Halvorssen appeared on Fox Business Network and endorsed Bernie Sanders during a segment that was meant to criticize the senator’s own brand of democratic socialism.
Halvorssen, the founder of Human Rights Foundation, appeared on Fox Business Network’s Intelligence Report, ostensibly to discuss how socialism is a violation of human rights. Instead, he turned the tables on host Gerri Willis, informing her that he has contributed the maximum allowable amount for an individual to Sanders’ campaign.
“You can have a country like Denmark or Norway or Sweden that oftentimes have socialist governments, labour governments. That’s perfectly fine. The problem is when socialism is done under an authoritarian government or someone using socialism as a mask takes control of a government claims that they’re going to help people and ultimately end up looting the country.”
As Willis tried to get Halvorssen to criticize Sanders as someone whose policies wouldn’t work in the United States, he did the opposite.
“I will say this. I actually made the largest contribution allowable to the campaign of Bernie Sanders. And yes, I believe that because the Democratic frontrunner right now is unfortunately someone who has taken millions and millions of dollars from many dictatorships.
Algeria, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia…countries that execute people for being gay…I would much rather have Bernie Sanders be the Democratic frontrunner than a person who takes money from dictatorships.”
— Thor Halvorssen (@ThorHalvorssen) March 2, 2016
As for Robert H. Wendt, he believes our country deserves more than mere personal loyalty.
“As to loyalty, I ask you to simply consider my example. Loyalty to the ideals of America are simply greater than the personal loyalty I owe the Clintons.”
[Photo: Whitney Curtis/Getty]