WITH each new disclosure, Bill and Hillary Clinton's connection between the emir of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, seems ever more intimate.
Last February, Sen. Clinton was out front in condemning DP World, a Dubai government-owned company seeking to take over key operations at American ports. But, at the same time, Bill was advising the emir to hire his former press secretary, Joe Lockhart, to get the deal approved.
Back then, Lockhart denied working for the emir. And when Bill's role became public, Hillary claimed that she had no idea that he had any involvement in the DP World issue.
Now, it turns out that the emir's Dubai International Capital Corp. hired Lockhart's company, Glover Park Group, by last April to help with another U.S. deal a takeover of two defense firms. (Besides Lockhart, Glover Park's partners also include Hillary's chief political gurus, Howard Wolfson and Gigi Georges. Dubai paid the firm $100,000 for its services.)
Oddly, the lobbying contract came through a California law firm Morrison, Foerster. One of that firm's partners is Raj Tanden whose sister is Neera Tanden, Sen. Clinton's former legislative director and still a top Hillary adviser. No six degrees of separation here.
Did Hillary know about the lucrative lobbying contract that her husband's patron and friend, the emir, gave (via her aide's brother's law firm) to her chief campaign consultants?
Did her own top consultants tell her about their Dubai deal? Did they ask her permission? We don't know.
Hillary's office claims that Glover Park never lobbied her on either Dubai issue. But Newsday reports that it did contact other New York critics of the port deal: Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Peter King. Why wouldn't they contact Sen. Clinton, too, given her objections? Maybe they don't have to because Bill delivers on those issues at home.
The relationship between the Clintons and the emir has long been too close to avoid scrutiny. Something is driving up Bill and Hillary's net worth pretty dramatically. In 2003, Sen. Clinton disclosed assets of at least $352,000 but less than $3.8 million. By 2005, she was declaring assets in the $10 million to $50 million range.
What caused the jump? It might have been Dubai.
Clinton is a top advisor to Yucaipa, an investment company run by billionaire Ron Burkle, which, through a subsidiary, got to manage the emir's investment portfolio shortly after Clinton joined the firm.
Clinton gets a flat fee from Yucaipa and a share of the profits on the foreign investment fund it manages. (Hillary's Senate disclosure form notes only that Bill gets more than $1,000 a year in compensation from this.)
The emir gave an undisclosed donation to the Clinton Presidential Library but it must have been hefty: The library set up a Clinton Scholars program for young people from the Arab nation, the only such program it runs.
Bill Clinton has twice given speeches in Dubai for close to $500,000.
The close ties to the emir may cause problems for the Clintons. The sheik turns out to be not such a nice guy. Just last week, a group of parents filed a class-action lawsuit against him and his brother in federal court in Miami, claiming that they conspired in a scheme that "abducted and trafficked thousands of small boys from South Asia and Africa to the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states and enslaved them to work as camel jockeys, camel trainers and camel tenders."
The suit says that "boys as young as two years old were stolen from their parents, trafficked to foreign lands, and put under the watch of brutal overseers in camel camps throughout the region."
It's time for the financial relationship between the Clintons and the emir to be fully disclosed. There are too many questions and conflicts here that need to be sorted out.