Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief is linked to the Panama Papers, but you’d never know it from watching mainstream media. As Tuesday’s election returns came back, CNN disclosed Clinton’s new strategy in a last-ditch effort to beat Sanders in the primary race. The strategy, the media outlet said, lays out a path to first disqualify Sanders in the eyes of voters, defeat him, and then unify the party, all with nary a mention of the looming international scandal.
Her efforts to disqualify Sanders in the eyes of voters have already kicked off. She has publicly pondered whether Sanders is qualified to be President. She’s suggested that he is not well-read or educated on the issues, despite his record of being right throughout his career. And she has also gone so far as to use the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims as a tool to advance her campaign.
All of this hypothesizing about Sanders’ experience and these attacks on his commitment to victims of violence is an effort by the Clinton campaign to distract attention from the bigger issue of the Panama Papers leak.
The 2.6-terabyte Panama Papers leak revealed tax evasion schemes by just one Panamanian company: Mossack Fonseca. None of those documents so far directly implicate United States citizens in tax evasion efforts. However, the Washington Free Beaconhas revealed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, is indirectly linked to a Russian bank and two other alleged Russian shell companies associated with Vladimir Putin.
So far, no mainstream media outlets are reporting on this link. A Lobbying Registration form shows that the Podesta Group is a lobbying organization which was co-founded by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and his brother, Tony. The group’s clients consist of Russian bank Sberbank USA, Inc. and two other obscure companies which have both been linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
What this means, essentially, is that Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief is attempting to serve two masters at once: Clinton and Russian banks through his lobbying firm. This is a clear conflict of interest. Clinton’s hawkish tone toward Putin and Russia makes Podesta’s connection to these organizations even more troubling. Although none of the companies mentioned in the papers are directly connected to Putin, they are unquestionably linked to him indirectly.
The Panama Papers revealed that one of Putin’s closest friends, Sergey Roldugin, directly and indirectly controlled several offshore businesses. Those businesses, according to OCCRP.org,did one to three of the following things: over-the-counter transactions of shares of the largest state-owned Russian companies, so-called donations laundered through paper deals, or preferential loans from Cyprus-based RCB Bank, which is largely controlled by VTB Bank (which is a state-owned Russian bank). Rodulgin was represented by two St. Petersburg businessmen that are major stakeholders for Russian-owned bank Rossiya. The bank is largely owned by close friends and family of Vladimir Putin.
The leak by Suddeutsche Zeitung illustrates just how epidemic global corruption is among heads-of-state and the super wealthy. Money that isn’t taxed cannot be spent on vital public programs, such as education and infrastructure. Instead, the Panama Papers reveal the money sits in offshore accounts, enriching the tax cheats Sanders has railed against for years. Hillary Clinton could not have been ignorant of such practices. She was Secretary of State when the Panama Free Trade Agreement passed, which she vigorously supported.
According to Politico, John and Tony Podesta’s firm will lobby for their client mainly in regards to sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict and “whether relief is possible.” So, while Hillary Clinton makes a show of toughness against Vladimir Putin for his alleged involvement in the Ukraine conflict, her campaign manager’s firm will be urging the U.S. government to go easy on him.
The Russia link is just the tip of the Panama Papers’ iceberg, and Clinton knows this. This is perhaps why she is hitting hard and fast in a desperate attempt to paint Bernie Sanders as inept, unintelligent, and unqualified to be President. On the contrary, Sanders warned Congress of the dangers of the Iraq War, which Hillary Clinton supported. Bill Clinton signed into law the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, while Hillary Clinton praised the move. Bernie Sanders warned Congress against repealing it, and his warnings came to fruition in 2008 with the economic collapse. Most recently, Sanders’ warnings against the Panama Free Trade Agreement solidify his record of being right when it matters, and that is what qualifies him to be President of the United States.
[Photo: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]