Date: October 25, 2000
Mowahid H. Shah
Columnist, Pakistan Link
15941 Red Hill Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780, USA
Phone: (714) 258-7624; Fax: (714) 258-7625

Hillary's Conflict of Interest

by Mowahid H. Shah

Debating with her senatorial opponent, Rick Lazio, in New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the United States for abstaining on a United Nations resolution censuring Israel for the violence in the Middle East. According to her, the United States should have vetoed the UN Security Council resolution of October 7. This from someone who, a little while back, was calling for a Palestinian state and was hugging and kissing Madame Suha Arafat. But then, Hillary apparently did not have senatorial ambitions in New York, where wrote the New York Times on October 9: "The positions taken by Mrs. Clinton underlined the importance of Jewish voters."

Shortly after the Camp David talks broke down on July 25, President Clinton went public, threatening to shift the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and followed up by having the White House release the picture of Hillary's opponent, Rick Lazio, warmly greeting Yasser Arafat. It had not gone unnoticed that this did not hurt Hillary. So much for the role of an honest broker.

Clinton has also used the bully pulpit of the Presidency to raise funds for Hillary, with Hillary outrageously claiming, in a "20/20" TV program that those who contributed to the Democratic Party are in fact contributing for democracy.

Some in the community who proudly fund raise under the illusion that they can mould donee behavior should pause and note how quickly and capriciously can the U.S. Mideast policy be manipulated into a game of political football.

Then there is the matter of conflict of interest, which the law defines as: "a real or seeming incompatibility between one's private interests and one's public or fiduciary duties."

The simultaneous wearing of two hats by Hillary, as First Lady and as a Senate candidate, and the use of the highest public position in the land to further the private political ambitions of a spouse is a reflection of the pollution of democracy and the lowering of standards. Using the platform of the White House as a springboard for launching a Senate bid gives rise to dual representation. This appearance of impropriety should not have been permitted.

Hillary has chosen to enjoy the best of both worlds but in doing so may be setting an unsavory precedent.

[Mowahid H. Shah is a member of the District of Columbia bar, former law partner of Sen. Abourezk, and a writer on international affairs.] back button