Republican candidate Donald Trump has cited links to Irish businessman Denis O’Brien and charitable donations made to the Clinton Foundation by the Irish government among the latest reasons why his opponent Hillary Clinton is a corrupt candidate.
In a string of emails released to the press late on Wednesday evening, the Trump campaign began a series entitled “Follow the Money” in which they came down hard on Clinton’s links to Wall Street and to wealthy business people worldwide, criticizing her neutrality while in office.
One such lengthy email, named “Follow the Money: Dennis O’Brien - Another Corrupt Clinton Friend”, highlighted the controversy surrounding O’Brien, the owner of the mobile phone empire Digicel, who has often been referred to as the “most reviled figure” in Ireland.
Containing no direct quote from Trump, the email listed article clippings in which O’Brien’s honesty was called into question and his close relationship with Bill Clinton was highlighted. O’Brien and his company Digicel have donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation since it was founded in 2001.
The series of media extracts, including lines from Forbes, The Irish Times and the Clinton Foundation website, look to highlight O’Brien’s connection with the Clinton’s and the work he has undertaken with the Foundation, while also drawing attention to the business deals and defamation cases that have made him infamous in Ireland.
In particular, the clippings pinpoint instances in which O’Brien held dinners for Clinton while she was on a visit to Dublin in 2012, and a trip to Ireland for Bill Clinton he almost completely funded in 2013. O’Brien was named as a Clinton Global Citizen in 2012.
On highlighting the connection, the email then pinpointed the findings of the Moriarty tribunal in which it was found that Irish politician and former government minister Michael Lowry assisted O’Brien in securing Ireland’s second cell phone licence.
The email also references the $2.5 million received by Digicel to develop mobile services in Haiti following the earthquake as part of an aid program overseen by a Clinton aide. The awards were provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Elsewhere in the “Follow the Money” series, the Irish government was named among the foreign governments who have donated to the Clinton Foundation, with the Trump campaign once again calling Clinton’s neutrality into question when politicians overseas are donating to the charity her family established.
Coming in as the third point in Trump’s “Ten Inconvenient Truths about the Clinton Foundation”, Ireland was listed among the 19 countries to give to the Foundation, with donations falling in between $5 million and $10 million up until June 2016. It does not detail when any of the donations were made.
The “Follow the Money” emails were released as Trump took up the line often pushed by former Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders. In a fiery speech on the campaign trail in Wisconsin last night, the real-estate mogul and businessman claimed Clinton was too closely linked to big business to be President, referencing the large sums of money she and her husband have received from large companies for speeches.
“Everything you need to know about Hillary Clinton can be understood with the simple phrase: follow the money,” the GOP candidate claimed, despite his own reluctance to release his recent tax returns so that the public can also follow his own links to big business and his financial dealings his own charitable foundation.
While the Clinton Foundation receives an A rating from CharityWatch, the charity watchdog established by the American Institute of Philanthropy, the Trump Foundation cannot be ranked as it is structured as a private foundation, equating to either a positive or negative assessment of its practices. President of CharityWatch Daniel Borochoff has previously referred to the Clinton Foundation as an “excellent charity” and it currently ranks higher than the Red Cross which has an A- rating.
The Trump Foundation, however, has come under fire in recent weeks as Washington Post journalist David Fahrenthold claims it may have engaged in “self-dealing”.