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Perry on Politics: A scandal that may catch a Clinton

Published by Mike Pound on .

Hillary Clinton (Associated Press photo)Hillary Clinton (Associated Press photo)

By James M. Perry

Hillary Rodham Clinton may finally be in trouble.

The basic problem seems to be that she's just too much of everything. Too much money. Too much ego. Too much shaving corners to get her way.

The latest example of her imperial tendencies is the business of using her own personal emails, instead of government ones, when she was Barack Obama's secretary of state. Republicans have been agitating for months to convince voters that Mrs. Clinton was responsible, in part at least, for the deadly raid on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Now they have suggestions that what they're looking for -- anything to tarnish Mrs. Clinton -- might be buried in all those personal emails.

It was, a New York Times editorial said, "a disturbing departure from the normal practice of relying primarily on departmental emails for official business." And so it was.

Even more curious is the news, reported in the Washington Post, that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during her four-year tenure as secretary of state. One of them, a $500,000 donation from the government of Algeria, should have been cleared with the Obama administration, the foundation admitted.

Other donations came from the governments of Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, all of them repressive on human-rights issues.

The foundation's defense is that all this money went to support good works. The $500,000 donation from Algeria, for example, went to relief efforts following the earthquake in 2010 in Haiti. But at the same time Algeria was supporting Haitian relief it spent $422,097 lobbying U.S. government officials on human rights and other issues.

The Clinton Foundation, based in Arkansas, is serious business. Since it was founded by former President Clinton, it has raised almost $2 billion, distributed in a number of charitable endeavors.

Why would the Clintons allow these unnecessary things to happen? Think, for a moment, who Hillary Clinton is. She is, in fact, the most celebrated woman in American history. She was born in 1947 in Illinois of middle-class parents. She was the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She married Bill Clinton and became the First Lady of Arkansas and, at the same time, the first female partner in the Rose Law Firm. When her husband was elected president, she moved with him and their daughter, Chelsea, into the White House. When that came to an end, the family moved to New York and she was elected the first female senator from the state. She ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, winning more delegate votes than any of the women who sought the office before her, losing narrowly to Mr. Obama. She then served four years in his administration as secretary of state.

She will be 68 years old in October and, with the understanding that the Democrats have no one else, she may feel that now is her time, and that nothing should be allowed to stand in her way.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

(Associated Press photo)(Associated Press photo)

1) You can say this about Gov. Tom Wolf: He's trying to do exactly what he spent 2014 telling us he would do. Governor Go Time took us through his budget proposal on Tuesday -- and now the real fun begins.

2) Former Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak officially kicks off his U.S. Senate campaign in Philadelphia today, and he has an interesting bit of information in his back pocket as he does: The incumbent isn't exactly setting himself up as a political juggernaut. A poll released Tuesday by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute shows that just 43.7 percent of Pennsylvania residents have a favorable opinion of Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey; another 25.8 percent say their opinion of the incumbent is not favorable. Mr. Sestak doesn't have much room to gloat – his own party's leaders seemed to be underwhelmed with the prospect of his candidacy last week – but at least we have some solid, attractive options, right?

3) The tea partiers on Capitol Hill are none too pleased, but U.S. House Speaker John Boehner pushed through a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, rather than use the measure to try to take on President Obama's immigration reform agenda.

4) Institutional discrimination is alive and well in Alabama.

5) This illustration of the inner workings of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's supply chain can provide fuel for both opponents of privatizing the state's booze sales (the board came through with a request) and those who support getting the state out of the booze business (Indiana County? Really?). Either way, it's a great look at the often byzantine process.

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Sestak to make it official

Published by Mike Pound on .

er sestak tweet

Former Congressman Joe Sestak is looking for a rematch in 2016; he'll announce on Wednesday that he's seeking the Democratic nomination to try to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

wolf tight er

1) It's showtime for Governor Go Time – as in, Gov. Tom Wolf gives his first budget address at 11:30 a.m. today. Our Karen Langley has a rundown of what to expect of the speech – tax proposals, Republicans politely applauding, Marcellus Shale interests readying press releases to take on Mr. Wolf's proposed severance tax. You can watch the fun unfold here.

2) It used to be that the sight of the late Mike Wallace, of "60 Minutes" fame, standing on your doorstep was a sign that you're about to have a very bad day. These days, you might say the same for an unannounced appearance on HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." In the middle of a 21-minute takedown of Congress over its refusal to deal with the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund and other infrastructure issues, Mr. Oliver used an infamous local structure – the Greenfield Bridge and its companion deck built to catch falling debris – as an example of our country's inability to address these problems. To be fair, the bridge and its, uh, younger, shorter companion will be demolished in December and replaced. But Mr. Oliver's line – "That is a college sophomore approach to structural engineering" – is still a classic. Skip ahead to the 7:28 mark to bask in Pittsburgh glory.

3) Tales Of Our Neighboring Governors, Part One: You know how programs like the Academy Awards use seat-fillers when celebrities leave to use the rest room so those of us watching at home don't see empty seats? Maybe that's why Ohio Gov. Kasich is attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress this morning.

4) Tales Of Our Neighboring Governors, Part Two: Voters in New Jersey are apparently growing weary of the antics of Gov. Chris Christie. Maybe Mr. Christie could run for mayor of Dallas?

5) State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has done her best to keep her office moving while she defends herself against charges that she leaked information to the media. But for the second time in as many months, Ms. Kane is looking for a new press secretary. Get those resumes updated, boys and girls.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

A gift for John Boehner.A gift for John Boehner.

1) Faced with a tight deadline – and the distinct possibility of backlash if the failed to act – members of the Republican Congressional majority on Friday managed to cobble together a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security for an entire week. Faced with pressure from the conservative members of his chamber to do something to roll back President Obama's executive actions on immigration and a grumpy Democratic minority in the Senate – along with the prospect of entertaining his guest from Israelhouse Speaker John Boehner has what looks to be a stressful week ahead.

2) Rich Fitzgerald doesn't have an opponent in this spring's primary election, but the Allegheny County executive will have some political targets anyway: Democrats – like county Controller Chelsa Wagner – who haven't followed the Fitzgerald Way during his first term.

3) While most of the conventioneers at last week's CPAC fell all over themselves to anoint conservative brethren like Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a group of youngsters were working on a novel idea for the GOP: "Hey, guys, howsabout we nominate someone who can beat Hillary Clinton?"

4) A U.S. Supreme Court case worth watching: A legal fight between Republicans in the Arizona state legislature and that state's mandated bipartisan commission that draws legislative districts. On the surface, the case will decide whether such commissions are legally able to manage redistricting; the bigger issue, however, may be who decides each state's election rules.

5) It's the biggest day yet for Governor Go Time: Tom Wolf delivers his first budget address on Tuesday. What we know: He'll propose a 5 percent severance tax on the energy industry and – perhaps in exchange – offer to cut the state's corporate tax rate. What we don't know: The details of his proposal for reforming personal income taxes. Break a leg, Mr. Wolf.

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