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Ron 'deep pockets' Burkle, Sandy 'pockets' Berger, and the Clintons
by Margie Burns Monday, Feb. 18, 2008 at 7:09 PM
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Globalization runs rampant on both sides of the Clinton family. California billionaire and Hillraiser Ron Burkle, a high-end supporter who has raised over $100,000 for Clinton, recently paid $20 million to Bill Clinton as a fair-market settlement for Mr. Clinton’s services and Clinton’s ownership stake in Burkle’s private investment firm, The Yucaipa Companies. Los Angeles-based Yucaipa, founded in 1986, until recently has invested largely in the U.S. In September 2007 the Yucaipa company bought a large stake in Xinhua, the Chinese government-owned news organization. The same month that Burkle’s Yucaipa firm announced its purchase in Xinhua Finance Media, the Chinese financial news provider, Xinhua News Agency demanded that financial news services including Bloomberg and Reuters in China sell information only through Xinhua.
Ron ‘deep pockets’ Burkle, Sandy ‘pockets’ Berger, and the Clinton campaign
Experience cuts more than one way: Globe-trotting, globalizing and campaigning in the Clinton interest
Globalization runs rampant on both sides of the Clinton family. California billionaire and Hillraiser Ron Burkle, a high-end supporter who has raised over $100,000 for Clinton, recently paid $20 million to Bill Clinton as a fair-market settlement for Mr. Clinton’s services and Clinton’s ownership stake in Burkle’s private investment firm, The Yucaipa Companies. Los Angeles-based Yucaipa, founded in 1986, until recently has invested largely in the U.S.
In September 2007 the Yucaipa company bought a large stake in Xinhua, the Chinese government-owned news organization. Senior Yucaipa partner and banking executive David Olson, a Clinton supporter in Chicago, is joining the board at Xinhua.
The same month that Burkle’s Yucaipa firm announced its purchase in Xinhua Finance Media, the Chinese financial news provider, Xinhua News Agency demanded that financial news services including Bloomberg and Reuters in China sell information only through Xinhua.
This kind of demand is usually represented as an instance of Chinese Communist tyranny, pushing back against Western interests, and suppression of a free press. In this instance it dovetails awfully neatly with some capitalist-running-dog interests.
The Clinton campaign has not yet responded to emailed questions. Telephoned for comment, campaign staffers refer questions to email@example.com.
Any role played by Bill Clinton in dealings between the Chinese government’s Xinhua and an American company should be vetted during a presidential campaign. Even in the Clinton administration, Berger apparently did not want China to get in trouble with his boss, then-President Clinton, and delayed for more than a year to inform Clinton that China had acquired designs of U.S. nuclear warheads. SEC filings are hardly necessary to establish that these people are free-traders. Sen. Barack Obama has said that Sen. Hillary Clinton was a friend of his before the campaign, and will be a friend of his after. It could also be said that Clinton was a free-trader before, and will be a free-trader after.
This pattern is corroborated by the Clintons’ longstanding connections to former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, now a foreign policy advisor to the Clinton campaign.
Sandy Berger, like Ron Burkle, is listed as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation established by Bill Clinton as former president which has funded his presidential library.
Samuel R. ‘Sandy’ Berger, as readers may recall, was the former Clinton national security chief who removed classified documents from a National Archives reading room in October 2003, shortly before Berger was to testify to the Independent 9/11 Commission. Berger reportedly took away one copy of five classified copies of a Millennial Plots report, produced for former counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, in September 2003, and then took away the four remaining copies of the report the next month.
Berger first told investigators that he had put the materials into his attaché case and jacket and pants pockets accidentally, but in pleading guilty to a misdemeanor after lengthy investigation he admitted removing them deliberately and cutting up some copies. He hid the documents temporarily under a construction trailer outside the main Archives building, then picked them up and carried them to his office.
In 2005, Berger was fined $50,000 and was sentenced to two years of probation and to 100 hours of community service. An attorney, he has also been disbarred and has given up his law license. The Department of Justice retrieved some of the copies and has said that no unique, original materials were lost.
Berger’s actions raised understandably heated criticism and leave some questions open about his previous visits to the National Archives in 2002 and 2003. Berger’s statement that he took the copies for his own convenience has also been questioned, since he could have removed just one copy if all he had wanted to do was save time in note-taking.
Sandy Berger is now foreign policy advisor in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, continuing his role as a fixture in foreign policy for both Clintons. Berger was then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton’s foreign policy advisor during his presidential campaign, moved forward to become Assistant Transition Director for National Security during the 1992 Clinton-Gore transition, moved into the Clinton administration as Deputy National Security Advisor under NSA Tony Lake, and became NSA when Lake left.
The neo-cons and the rightwing noise machine have screamed less than might be expected about Clinton’s association with Berger--another sign that ‘Hillary’ is the Democratic nominee they want. Some GOP lawmakers have criticized it vehemently, but one thing accomplished by Bush’s pardon of Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby was to free up presidential contenders to make picks like Berger.
Ready on Day One after the White House?
National security is not the only issue here. Berger’s big-business employment since leaving the White House, befitting his international connections, has been largely with globalizers.
Berger is co-Chairman and co-founder of Stonebridge International, a DC-based advisory firm that offers its services to help companies expand in foreign markets including Russia, China, India and Brazil. His Stonebridge bio states that “He is involved across nearly all the firm's engagements and regions, with a particularly strong focus on Asia, Russia and Central Asia and the Middle East.”
Berger is also on the board of a New York-based international hedge fund, DB Zwim Global Advisory. DB Zwim Global interests include a 35 percent stake in Dhandapani Finance, a major earth-moving finance company in India, and Ariel Global Limited, a large Singapore concrete company. DB Zwim, headed by substantial Clinton donor and supporter Daniel B. Zwim, has many subsidiaries and branches including DB Zwim Mauritius Trading Limited, and DB Zwim Special Opportunities Fund, Ltd.
The Zwim hedge fund also acquires stakes in U.S. companies reorganizing under bankruptcy. Zwim investments include the bankrupt elder-care company Fountain View, Inc, which operates 48 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California and Texas; and NewComm Wireless Services, purchased by a company in Puerto Rico.
Rounding out the bigger picture, Sandy Berger is also an Advisory Board member for Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy” according to its web site.
Forget the punditry about women and Latinos
Thus Berger is part of the glue holding together the true Clinton power base—free-traders, globalizers, privatizers, ‘centrists’ and Democratic donors in big business.
Berger himself has donated heavily to political campaigns, giving $61,800 in recent election cycles, including a maxed out $9,600 to Hillary Clinton and $4,000 to Joe Lieberman. Stonebridge International personnel have donated $131,050 to candidates and committees, mostly Democrats. Stonebridge president Anthony Harrington has donated $86,600 to Democrats, also maxing out to Hillary Clinton with two $2300 donations in 2007, according to numbers provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Sen. John McCain, it might be noted, has not criticized this financial-sector globalizing interest in Clinton. McCain is not in a position to do so. Few GOP candidates aside from Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) can run against, or even mention, globalization.
Given ties like these, the claim by a NAFTA supporter running in Hawaii, Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio, that she no longer supports NAFTA and will “stand” and “fight,” etc., calls for scrutiny.