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Late last year, Time Magazine looked into the business affairs of
Tony and Hugh Rodham, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brothers.

The magazine found that there have been at least two occasions where
the Rodham boys obtained White House meetings with top administration
officials on behalf of their business associates.

This appears to be one more way — of many — that the Clinton clan
benefits personally from Bill and Hillary’s White House experience.

President Clinton even agreed to a scheduled drop-by with the mayor
of Moscow after Tony Rodham arranged for him to come to the White House
at a time when Rodham’s clients were hoping to secure the mayor’s
support for a lucrative business deal in Moscow. In 1997, Tony Rodham
arranged a White House meeting for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at the
request of Gene Prescott, who was involved with a start-up company that
hoped to bring “smart” credit-debit cards to Russia with Luzhkov’s
support. As reports linked Luzhkov to members of the Russian mafia, Tony
Rodham’s request on his behalf made things very uncomfortable for Sandy
Berger, the national security adviser. Nevertheless, in April 1997,
Berger agreed to meet with Luzhkov and President Clinton arranged to
stop by.

Conflict of interest? Not in the Clinton dictionary.

Hugh Rodham was one of several lawyers who began negotiating a
possible settlement with a gun industry trade group in 1999. Robert
Ricker, the former head of the group, said Hugh Rodham helped arrange a
White House meeting in early May with White House counsel Bruce Lindsey,
domestic policy adviser Bruce Reed and others.

Huh? Is this family playing all the angles or what?

According to Ralph Nader, Hugh Rodham represented tobacco companies
while the administration was hammering them with lawsuits.

There’s a pattern developing here.

In August 1999, the Rodham brothers and sometime partner Stephen
Graham flew to Batumi in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to look
over a potential $118 million hazelnut operation. But they tumbled into
the Byzantine world of post-Soviet politics. Batumi is ruled by Aslan
Abashidze, a powerful rival to U.S. ally and Georgian president Eduard
Shevardnadze; Abashidze feted them for the huge investment they were
expected to bring. While Tony Rodham says Abashidze did not exploit his
White House connections, Shevardnadze sympathizers say he used the visit
to claim he had a seal of approval from the U.S. government, a useful
imprimatur in upcoming elections. Berger reportedly told the brothers to
end the hazelnut deal and after first resisting; they relented.

But Tony Rodham later told Time that he is “restructuring” the
venture.

I give you all this background as a preface for the latest news on
the Hugh and Tony Rodham front.

Taiwan Vice President Annette Lu met with them last week for what was
called, in the Chinese press, a “secret meeting.”

Legislator Parris Chang, former Democratic Progressive Party
representative in Washington, who was instrumental in arranging the
Rodhams’ low-key visit to Taipei, declined to disclose whether the first
lady’s brothers brought along any message from President Clinton,

the
China Times reported.

Chang, however, said the visit by Hugh and Tony Rodham was useful in bolstering understanding and increasing interaction between Taiwan and the United States. During the lunch, Vice President Lu exchanged views with the Rodhams on Taipei-Beijing relations and on the impact of the Korean summit on the cross-strait situation, according to Chang.

The Rodhams expressed the hope that Taiwan will further bolster its publicity in the United States so as to enable the American public to better know Taiwan and its people, Chang said.

According to Chang, others present at the secret lunch included National Security Council Secretary-General Chuang Ming-yao, Mainland Affairs Council Chair Tsai Ing-wen, and Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission Chair Chang Fu-mei.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, declined to comment on the lunch, only saying that the MOFA knew nothing of the Rodham visit.

Now what are we to make of this?

I’ll tell you what. Judging from the company the Rodhams have kept throughout the course of the Clinton administration, I would be very concerned right now if I was a resident of Taiwan.

These guys are always on the opposite side of the administration, apparently skimming anything they can get through not-so-subtle extortion. My guess is that they went to Taiwan for campaign contributions for the Democrats — especially Hillary’s New York Senate bid.

And what’s in it for Taiwan? That poor little nation is about to get shafted the way the tobacco companies and gun industry did.

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