Embattled United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has a bothersome new controversy to add to her already full plate. In her recent financial disclosure, Ms. Rice revealed problematic investments in several major companies that do business with the Republic of Iran. Legitimate issues have been raised and the only reply from the party in power is to accuse Republicans of sexism and racial prejudice for objecting to Rice as a future Secretary of State.
A storm is brewing over Rice’s investments and devoted supporters of her boss, President Obama, continue to rail against the one percent while shouting for the rights of the 99 percent.
Critics of the administration point out that Madame Rice happens to be the richest member of the Executive Branch, with a net worth estimated between 24 million to 44 million dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and no one seems to understand why any of this matters.
The inconvenient revelations raise serious questions about Ambassador Rice as an acceptable candidate for Secretary of State, if and when, Hillary Clinton decides to resign the post. Although they have wisely decided to remain anonymous for the moment, even loyal Democrats have begun to express their reservations about Ms. Rice.
According to the Washington Post, the anti-Rice buzz is active and Capitol Hill is jumping with dozens of insiders anxious to put in their two cents on the issue of the week.
“On Thursday, Republicans on Capitol Hill began circulating information about Rice’s investments connected to Iran. Asked about the disclosure revelations, one senior GOP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the topic, said, ‘This news adds to the list of questions about Susan Rice — not only her public statements, but now there are broader concerns about her past record.’ Democratic staffers also said on condition of anonymity for the same reason that the investments would prompt questions of her if she is nominated.”
Ambassador Rice’s investments include $50,001 to $100,000 in oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, a company that is alleged to follow the sanctions, but still owes a debt of one billion dollars to Iran. She also has investments in BHP Billiton and Norsk Hydro, two companies with extensive business ties to the Iranian Government and privately owned companies in the Islamic Republic.
Even normally left-leaning organizations called Rice’s potential Secretary of State nod into question this week when they revealed another red flag in her financial profile. According to environmental advocates The Natural Resources Defense Council, Rice holds millions of dollars of investments in Canadian oil companies and banks with stakes in the $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, a controversial domestic energy project that environmental groups have fought against from day one.
“It’s really amazing that they’re considering someone for Secretary of State who has millions invested in these companies,” said Bill McKibben, an activist and protester of the Keystone XL project.
The disputed investments are informing a non-Benghazi scandal quickly building around the UN Ambassador; a scandal which, interestingly, is growing in bipartisan support. Perhaps this is what was meant by Lindsey Graham when he said he was “more disturbed” by Rice after meeting with her to clear the air on Benghazi.
Supporters of Susan Rice claim that all the companies involved also do substantial business outside of Iran and they are considered legitimate investments. Democrats point out that John McCain also invested in Royal Dutch Shell (along with President Obama) and the Republicans are just attacking Rice out of spite or malice.
The reality of the situation tells an entirely different story. The House of Representatives passed a bill in 2007 allowing state and local governments to divest from companies that conducted business in Iran and Senator Obama supported a similar bill in the United States Senate.
It is simply hypocrisy for the Democrats to advocate against investments in companies doing business with Iran when it was politically convenient five years ago and then insist its is unfair when Republicans hold them to the same standards once Obama becomes President.