Hillary Clinton’s support for the Export-Import Bank has raised questions of cronyism in light of revelations that the Clinton Foundation has received millions from the bank’s main beneficiaries.
Clinton spoke in favor of reauthorizing Ex-Im Friday at a campaign event in New Hampshire, calling the bank “a vital lifeline for small businesses.” She warned 164,000 jobs would be put at risk if Congress allows its charter to expire June 30, The Free Beacon reports.
However, Clinton neglected to mention Boeing and General Electric during her speech, even though the two corporations are the top beneficiaries of Ex-Im financing. In FY 2014, Boeing received about 40 percent of all Ex-Im financing, while GE took second place with about 7 percent.
This has led some critics of Ex-Im to speculate that Clinton’s position may have something to do with the sizable donations both companies have made to the Clinton Foundation. According to the Foundation’s website, GE had donated between $500,000 and $1 million as of the end of 2014, while Boeing had given between $1 million and $5 million.
Moreover, the Foundation has also received hefty donations from foreign companies that have been the largest purchasers of U.S. products financed by Ex-Im. (RELATED: Ex-Im Criticized for Lending to State-Owned Foreign Companies)
The state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex, which tops that list, has donated between $1,000 and $5,000, and Emirates Air, the second-largest foreign beneficiary, has given between $1 million and $5 million.
Although there is nothing illegal about the donations, they raise the specter of cronyism, particularly among those who see the bank as a fund for corporate welfare.
“This is business as usual in the world of politics: big companies buying access and political favors from candidates or lawmakers in office,” Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, told the Free Beacon.
“[Clinton’s] support for the Ex-Im Bank is a case study in cronyism and corporate welfare,” Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis said in a press release. “Congress should reject Mrs. Clinton’s Ex-Im position and end this culture of corruption, and start fighting on behalf of hard-working taxpayers,” he added.
Ex-Im’s defenders are hardly placing all of their hopes in Clinton’s support, though, with executives at both Boeing and GE stepping up their own lobbying efforts of late, according to The Wall Street Journal. (RELATED: Boeing Threatens to Outsource Jobs if Ex-Im is Shut Down)
Spokespersons for both companies have warned that if Ex-Im is allowed to close, they will be compelled to outsource jobs to countries that are still willing to subsidize their exports.
Those threats appeared to have an impact on Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose home state of South Carolina has about 8,000 Boeing employees, and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, where Boeing employees about 80,000 people. (RELATED: Sens. Graham, Cantwell Threaten to Torpedo TPA Over Ex-Im)
Last week, Graham and Cantwell were able to secure a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would allow a floor vote on reauthorization by holding hostage their support for Trade Promotion Authority legislation, widely seen as critical to passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
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