When Hillary Clinton offered her full-throated support for the Export-Import Bank during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate, a vast majority of viewers were likely unaware that some of the largest recipients of subsidies from the federal agency are major Clinton Foundation donors.
Boeing, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Emirates Airline, and others have received billions of dollars in handouts from Ex-Im. They’ve also contributed massively to the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-related endeavors. Companies like Bechtel Corp. have ties to the Clintons through Podesta Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm.
But Clinton failed to mention any of that Sunday when she touted Ex-Im’s virtues as a boon to small businesses.
“One of the ways jobs were brought to, and grown here in Michigan was through something called the Export-Import Bank, which helped a lot of businesses, particularly small businesses, be able to export around the world,” she said during the debate, which was held in Flint, Mich.
That comment received heavy pushback from Clinton’s challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The democratic socialist, who voted against reauthorizing the agency last year, pointed to statistics showing that 75 percent of Ex-Im’s disbursements go to major corporations and not small businesses.
Sanders is not alone in his critique of Ex-Im’s apparent cronyism. Conservative Republicans have been heavily critical of the 81-year-old agency, going so far as to block its reauthorization in the House for several months last year.
Ex-Im’s biggest beneficiary, as Sanders noted, is Boeing, the airplane maker. It also happens to be a major Clinton Foundation donor, which is a fact which Sanders did not mention.
The Chicago-based company — which received $8.3 billion in financial assistance in 2013 — has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the non-profit’s website. It recorded a $5.2 billion profit last year.
General Electric also receives Ex-Im handouts. GE’s relationship to Ex-Im is so tight that the conglomerate announced plans to move American jobs overseas if Congress failed to reauthorize the agency. The House did so in November.
GE has contributed between $500,000 and $1 million to the Clinton charity, which has received more than $2 billion in contributions since it was founded in 2001.
ExxonMobil has been an Ex-Im beneficiary, too. The oil producer has also donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Caterpillar, the engine and farm machinery maker, is also a Clinton contributor.
Bechtel Corporation, a civil engineering firm that contracts with the U.S. government, received $1.8 billion in Ex-Im assistance in 2013, according to a report from the Mercatus Center.
And while the company has not donated to the Clinton Foundation, it is connected to the Clintons through the Podesta Group, which was co-founded in the late-1980s by brothers John and Tony Podesta. The former is currently the chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign. The latter has bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions for the campaign.
Bechtel hired Podesta Group in early 2013 and pays the lobbying outfit $30,000 per quarter, according to publicly available records.
Dow Chemical is another Ex-Im beneficiary with deep Clinton ties. The company has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
And according to National Review, the chemical company signed a $2.8 million contract with Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm that was founded by Bill Clinton’s top aide, Doug Band. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s State Department deputy chief of staff, also worked for the firm. Bill Clinton himself served on the company’s board of advisers for a time.
The same year it partnered with Teneo, Dow Chemical joined forces with Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, to form a joint venture called Sadara.
In Sept. 2012, Ex-Im gave a $4.975 billion direct loan to Sadara to build an integrated chemicals complex in Saudi Arabia. According to an Ex-Im press release, $600 million of the loan would be used to purchase equipment from U.S. companies.
Ex-Im called the loan its “Bank Deal of the Year.”
The export agency partners with other foreign companies with ties to the Clintons and their non-profit.
The bank has subsidized Emirates Airline to the tune of $3.4 billion. The airliner is owned by United Arab Emirates, which has contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas producer, is the largest foreign recipient of Ex-Im funding and is a Clinton Foundation donor.
While the company has only donated between $1,000 and $5,000 to the Clinton Foundation, it has other ties to the Clintons through Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
Subsidiaries of Slim’s Grupo Carso contract with Pemex to produce oil and natural gas.
Slim has numerous partnerships with the Clinton Foundation and its various offshoots. He is also listed on the Foundation’s website as donating between $250,000 and $500,000. That donation was revised downward last year for unexplained reasons, as the Washington Free Beacon noted. Slim had been listed as giving a donation of between $1 million and $5 million.
And then there is Siemens, a German engineering company whose American arm has received billions in Ex-Im help.
The company has donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. But it has supported the Clinton slush fund in other ways.
At the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative, the company announced that it was pledging $10 million to provide medical services and technology to rural China. And in 2007, Siemens partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative to help reduce energy use in buildings around the world.
In defending her support for Ex-Im on Sunday, Clinton said that she believes the agency is needed in order to remain competitive with other nations with robust export agencies.
“In fact, without the export-import bank, supporting businesses of all sizes — I believe more jobs would be lost here at home and more jobs literally would be exported. Instead of exporting products, we would be exporting jobs,” Clinton argued.
Sanders responded with a bit of sarcasm.
“Isn’t it tragic that the large multinational corporations making billions of dollars a year, shutting down in America, going to China, going to Mexico?” he said. “Absolutely they need a handout from the American middle class — I don’t think so.”