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Donor question plagues Hillary Clinton

Foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation have been

Foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation have been under increased scrutiny since Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy in April 2015. Credit: Getty Images / AFP / Stephen Chernin

The International Security Advisory Board is described by the State Department as providing it “with independent insight and advice on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, international security, and related aspects of public diplomacy.”

This is nuclear weapons policy. So what qualifications did Chicago securities trader and Democratic donor Rajiv Fernando have to serve on this policy board? It’s a question many are trying to get Hillary Clinton to answer, and rightly so.

Citizens United sued in federal court last week to compel the State Department to produce detailed records connected to Fernando’s appointment to the board, generally composed of former members of Congress, scientists and security experts familiar with intelligence matters. Fernando’s appointment had been questioned before but the issue didn’t catch much attention at the time. It was the exposure of State Department emails last week suggesting donors to the Clinton Foundation had received special consideration that reignited the issue.

Fernando was a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Clinton’s primary run that year and the Clinton Foundation. He left the board two days after ABC requested his resume from the State Department in 2011. The emails suggest Fernando was assigned to the board by Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, despite a push back from career professionals.

Major donors get a certain type of access. It’s one thing when that means stroking their egos, but quite another when it means putting an unqualified person on an important policy panel. The porous wall between Clinton’s private interests and her public duty raises serious questions she must answer.— The editorial board