BILL’S UGLY BUDDY: PAYMENTS FROM SCANDAL-TIED FIRM
This is a more detailed version of a column that was published in The New York Post on May 24, 2007.
Since he left office in 2001, former president Bill Clinton has been paid by InfoUSA, an Omaha, Nebraska company that has been identified as a key provider of specially designed databases that are sold to criminals who use the detailed information to defraud the unsuspecting elderly.
Because Senate financial disclosure rules do not require Hillary Clinton to reveal exactly how much — or for what — the company has paid her husband over the past five years, we don’t know all the details. But we do know this: former presidents – especially Bill Clinton – don’t come cheap. And, just months after he left the presidency, Bill Clinton was paid $200,000 for a speech given to InfoUSA in Omaha. Since then, he has been paid an undisclosed amount each year, listed only as “more than $1000″ for ‘non-employee compensation” on Senator Clinton’s Senate financial disclosure form.
According to the The New York Times, InfoUSA compiled and sold lists that disclosed the names of elderly men and women who would be likely to respond to unscrupulous scams. The lists left no doubt about the vulnerability of the elderly targets. The Times reported, for example, that InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”
InfoUSA sold lists to companies that were under investigation or closed down by courts because of their criminal activity. The company’s internal emails show that employees were aware that the investigation for elderly fraud involved their customers, but sold the lists anyway.
The Times profiled one unfortunate 92 year old man who entered a sweepstake sponsored by InfoUSA. The information that he innocently provided was then sold to the predator marketers. After responding to their telemarketing calls seeking financial information, his entire life savings was stolen from his bank account at Wachovia Bank. These practices, using lists supplied by InfoUSA were repeated all over the country.
Last week, Hillary Clinton sought and obtained an extension of time to file her presidential candidate financial disclosure statement. Unlike the information required of Senators, this filing requires her to list not just the sources of Bill’s income but exactly how much they paid him. While Senator Clinton offered no reason for the postponement, one cannot help wondering if a desire to conceal InfoUSA’s payments to her husband while the company is under fire.
The relationship between Bill Clinton and Vinod “Vin”Gupta, the CEO and Chairman of InfoUSA is both long-standing and deep. A frequent Clinton donor, he has stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom, admitted to donating $1,000,000 to the Clinton Library and told the press that he’d consider an additional donation. Again, since the Clintons refuse to disclose who donated money to the library, we don’t know the total that he actually gave. In late 1999, Gupta gave $2,000,000 for Hillary Clinton’s Millennium New Year’s Eve bash. (They party cost $16 million and was closed to the press!)
The links between Gupta and the Clintons are extensive:
- Gutpa raised over $200,000 for Hillary’s Senate campaigns and contributed thousands to the DNC and Democratic House and Senate campaigns.
- InfoUSA was one of the sponsors of the Aspen Festival of Ideas last summer where Bill and Hillary Clinton both spoke.
- Gupta built the Bill Clinton Science & Technology Center and the Hillary Clinton Mass Communications Center in his hometown of Rampur, India
- Bill and Gutpa traveled to India together
- Gupta reportedly paid for a golf outing for Bill at a legendary Scottish course
- InfoUSA appointed Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton’s longtime money man to the Board of Directors of its subsidiary company videoyellowpagesusa.com
- Clinton appointed Gupta to the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees only a few days before he left office
- Clinton also nominated Gupta as Consul General of Bermuda and U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, but Gupta was never confirmed
- Gupta’s company co-sponsored the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative
- Gupta sent a $7000 treadmill to Chappaqua days after the Clintons left the White House. After the NY Post disclosed the gift, the Clintons returned the gift.
Gupta’s generosity to the Clintons is only matched by his generosity to himself. InfoUSA has lately been attacked by some of its shareholders, particularly by the Greenwich, Connecticut company Cardinal Capital that went after Conrad Black. Lord Black is now on trial in Chicago for corporate fraud.
Cardinal Capital objected to Gupta’s purchase of a $600,000 skybox at the University of Nebraska, his family’s charges of $13.5 million in private jet charges, and $2.5 million for the long term lease of a yacht-all with corporate funds.
In addition to his 2001 visit to the company’s headquarters, Bill Clinton was back there to speak at a conference on privacy issues in September 2006. Senator Clinton’s disclosure statement for that period has not been publicly released, so we don’t know how much he was paid.
This connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA only underscores the necessity of full disclosure of income sources and amounts by all the presidential candidates and the release of their income tax returns, a step Mrs. Clinton has, thus far, refused to take.