Clinton Donor Lobbied State For Taxpayer-Backed Loans, Emails Reveal

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A donor to the Clinton Foundation lobbied the Department of State for government-guaranteed loans to finance hotel construction Haiti.

On May 17 2011, hotel developer Richard L. Friedman emailed Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills to sell the project, reports Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon. Friedman also had a discussion with Hillary Clinton in the White House, but what they discussed is unknown.

Friedman told Mills in an email:

We had a good meeting with Jean-Louis, Marriott executives, [the Overseas Private Investment Corporation], etc regarding building hotels in Haiti—I am pursuing this vigorously and hope to be able to develop 2 to 3 hotels with Marriott as manager.

Friedman added he would he would be talking with the Department of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank is a taxpayer-backed federal agency that provides low-interest loans to foreign companies that buy American goods.

The bank’s charter expired in July after conservative Republicans made a point of opposing the institution as an example of crony capitalism.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides U.S. companies with loans, loan guarantees, and political risk insurance at low rates to encourage investment in developing countries and emerging markets, and has also been lambasted as a scheme for corporate welfare.

A recent report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute confirmed that OPIC’s own data showed that it benefits large, well-connected companies. OPIC’s top 10 beneficiaries capture 90 percent of its business. The agency’s partners include banking giants JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, as well as multi-billion dollar companies like Virgin.

Friedman, who contributed $2,300 to Hillary’s 2008 campaign and between $1-5,000 to the Clinton Foundation, told Mills “I will keep you informed about our progress in Haiti—we are going to need all the help we can get.”

In 2010, Friedman was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Export Council, a national advisory committee on trade.

Hospitality giant Marriott International has also been a substantial contributor to the Clinton Foundation, giving between $50,000 and 100,000, according to Goodman. Marriott has been on the receiving end of as much as $200 million worth of loans from OPIC.

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