Hillary may have to hide her brothers

By: Michael M. Bates

Billy Carter, registered foreign agent of the Libyan government and brother of President Jimmy, urinated in public at the Atlanta airport. Sam Houston Johnson, alcoholic and brother of President Lyndon, claimed he was virtually a hostage in the White House and was followed by the Secret Service when he went out. Donald Nixon, budding entrepreneur and brother of President Richard, used his fraternal connection in the late 1950s to secure a business loan.

You can choose your friends, but not your family. A number of politicians have found the axiom all too true.

Mrs. Clinton’s brothers may yet play a role in her pursuit of the presidency. And she is indeed already in pursuit, if Time magazine’s cover article this week is to be believed.

Mrs. Clinton is putting the machinery in place. Her husband is ‘“thinking about (her presidential prospects) all the time,’ says one of Hillary’s advisers. ‘He’s thinking about it and talking to a lot of people, promoting Hillary. This is something he is very focused on.’”

Time magazine wants to help. This is the tenth Time cover she’s been on. Even Princess Diana didn’t receive such royal treatment.

Moreover, the article makes no mention of her two brothers, Anthony and Hugh Rodham, both remarkable men. Anthony made the news only weeks ago.

The Washington Times reported that a bankruptcy judge has frozen Tony Rodham’s bank account. A court-appointed trustee is demanding Mrs. Clinton’s brother repay more than $100,000 in loans he obtained from a carnival company, United Shows of America, Inc.

How did Tony, who has described himself as a consultant – Gee, could he be a little vaguer? – get his mitts on carnival cash?

This is just a guess, but it may possibly have had something to do with two presidential pardons granted by Rodham’s brother-in-law. These weren’t part of Bill’s last minute specials; he approved them months before he left office.

In 2001, the New York Times described what happened:

“Former President Bill Clinton’s brother-in- law Tony Rodham helped obtain a presidential pardon for a Tennessee couple last March over the objections of the Justice Department, Mr. Rodham and lawyers involved in the pardon said today.

“Mr. Clinton pardoned Edgar Allen Gregory Jr. and his wife, Vonna Jo. The Gregorys, who live outside Nashville and own United Shows of America, a carnival company based in Smyrna, Tenn., were convicted of bank fraud in 1982, accused of using the assets of a bank they owned to give loans to friends.”

The article went on to say that neither Rodham nor the Gregorys would disclose their financial relationship. Justice Department officials strongly objected, but Tony wasn’t clowning around. The carnies received their pardons.

Now he’s in the news again, which may not be good for Sister Hillary’s ambitions. It might remind voters how her brother Hugh Rodham had taken $400,000 in exchange for getting other people pardoned. One ran a cocaine ring. The other was convicted of business fraud and three years after his pardon from Clinton was sentenced to 18 months in prison for not paying millions in taxes.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton denied any knowledge of Hugh’s enterprise. They insisted he return the money, which he did. Or at least said he did.

Then there was Hugh and Tony’s excellent Russian adventure. They wanted to grow and export hazelnuts from Georgia. Not Billy Carter’s Georgia, Joe Stalin’s Georgia. The scheme ran into trouble when the boys involved themselves in some tangled Soviet intrigue and brother-in-law Bill’s administration nixed it.

Whenever trouble surfaced, Hillary and Bill routinely denied they knew what the Rodham boys were up to. That’s not easy to accept. After all, Hugh and Tony were close enough to go on the Clintons’ honeymoon with them. For a time, Hugh listed the White House as his home address.

I began this by citing a few siblings who’ve embarrassed their presidential brothers. That’s nothing new and the Republic survives.

What’s different about Mrs. Clinton’s brothers is that they’ve almost certainly affected presidential decisions. Will they do that again if Hillary gets elected president?

It’s a reasonable question. She may have to keep them under wraps until after her White House run so she doesn’t have to answer it.

Surely she’d have her hand full with the Rodham rascals, emboldened by Sis’s success. Add to the mix her brother-in-law, Roger Clinton of the Ne’er Do Well Finishing and Pardon Peddling School, and you have a recipe for scandals that would make her husband’s administration look respectable. Well, almost.

This Michael M. Bates column appeared in the August 24, 2006 Oak Lawn Reporter.

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