QATAR: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Money

ALEXIS CRUZ WRITES – October in a U.S. election year often unveils some scandal. This year is no different, except the scandals have gotten weirder and this time Qatar is in on the mischief.

According to emails leaked by Wikileaks, in 2012 Qatari representatives sought a 5-minute meeting with Bill Clinton in exchange for donating $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

The claim adds to rival Donald Trump’s attacks on Hillary’s ethics, though thanks to numerous allegations of sexual assault, Trump’s own credibility is anything but solid.

Still, it’s troubling that the person who in all likelihood will be the next U.S. president has such a whiff of pay-to-play surrounding her tenure at State.

When Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, the Clinton Foundation agreed to ask the State Department to review donations from new foreign governments or regular donors looking to expand their giving. Qatar has a complicated history with donations. As an oil-rich nation, it has plenty of extra money to spend. The Qatari royal family often gives to charities and relief efforts. The former emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani once gave $100 million to the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort and Qatar has raised big money to help refugees in Syria .

But some of Qatar’s donations are troublesome. Earlier this year, Qatar’s government promised to pay the monthly salaries of nearly 24,000 civil servants in the Gaza Strip. The money helps them but bolsters Hamas, which rules Gaza and is at odds with the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. Israel, Iran and Egypt all have interests in Gaza, which puts Qatar in a delicate situation.

Charitable giving is part of Qatar’s foreign policy and the country wants to expand its influence in the Middle East and become the regional problem-solver. Qatar’s aid to the United States is part of a contentious relationship. Qatar is an ally but the country has been accused of sponsoring terrorism.

Whatever reasons Qatar may have for giving to the Clinton Foundation, it’s not unusual. Qatar has donated to the Clinton Foundation since 2002. The foundation did not think it needed to verify with the State Department nor that there would be an ethical conundrum. So far no records show that foreign governments received favors for donating. The hacked emails mention that the Qataris wanted to meet Bill Clinton and talk about Haiti, which was still recovering from the 2011 earthquake.

Despite the scandal, it’s difficult to prove that the Clinton Foundation has not done any good. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar the Clinton Foundation receives goes to charitable causes and the foundation gets good marks from watchdogs. However money Qatar gave to the Clintons, it was most likely put to good use.

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