Obama Campaign Labels Hillary a "Punjab" Over Her Investments

Barack Obama said he was going to avoid negative campaign attacks. However, his campaign just made one against Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times reports that the Clintons recently divested themselves of their stocks held in a blind trust (meaning the stocks were chosen by trustees and they were not allowed to be advised of which stocks they were holding) to avoid any allegations of conflict of interest.

When Hillary became a presidential candidate, regulations required her to dissolve the blind trust so that she would know what stocks she held.

Once she learned what they were, she and Bill decided to liquidate them all, even though by doing so they will have to pay hefty capital gains taxes.


The Clintons liquidated the trust — valued at $5 million to $25 million — and are leaving the proceeds for now in cash in an effort to eliminate any chance of ethical problems or political embarrassment from their holdings as Mrs. Clinton runs for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, their advisers said. By disposing of all their stocks, Mrs. Clinton was seeking to avoid potential conflicts of interest that might arise from legislation that she votes on in the Senate, as well as avoid holding financial stakes in companies and industries — like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the owner of Fox News — that could draw criticism from some Democratic voters.

Mrs. Clinton automatically became aware of her investments because of a government directive this spring that she, as a presidential candidate, had to dissolve her blind trust and disclose all of her assets to the public.

The Clintons didn't have to sell the stocks, only become aware of what they owned:

The Clintons sold the stock as they prepared to disclose their holdings under government ethics rules for presidential candidates. Until getting ready to release the holdings in the blind trust, the Clintons did not know what stocks and other financial assets it contained. But the rules did not require the Clintons to sell the stock, their advisers said.

“Senator Clinton and the president wanted to go above and beyond and avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, so they chose to liquidate the assets,” said Howard Wolfson, communications director of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

So, what did Obama do?

Turns out:

Mr. Clinton also has $15,001 to $50,000 in Easy Bill Ltd., an India-based company that works on electronic transactions and business services for Indians.

Upon learning about this, Obama's campaign sent out an analysis of the Clinton investments to news organizations which it asked not be attributed to the campaign:

It called Mrs. Clinton “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” in its headline. The document went on to refer to the investment in India and Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising efforts among Indian-Americans. The analysis also highlighted the acceptance by Mr. Clinton of $300,000 in speech fees from Cisco, a company the Obama campaign said has moved American jobs to India.

Camp Obama's explanation:

Asked about the document, Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said: “We did give reporters a series of comments she made on the record and other things that are publicly available to anyone who has access to the Internet. I don’t see why anyone would take umbrage with that.”

Asked why the Obama campaign had initially insisted that it not be connected to the document, Mr. Burton replied, “I’m going to leave my comment at that.”

Not take umbrage at being called "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)? I'd take umbrage at that if I were either Hillary or Punjabi.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Macacaesque? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 11:26:25 PM EST

    The point is (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by chemoelectric on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 01:58:55 AM EST
    The point is that no one should be 'faulting' Ms. Clinton for the contents of a blind trust that she is liquidating. To do so is a form of lying by innuendo. So we can say now that the Obama campaign is not planning to be honest with voters, which is unsurprising but noteworthy, since Obama exudes some kind of aura of 'authenticity', which I call sweat.

    That 'authenticity' is only for the primary season (none / 0) (#17)
    by fairleft on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:51:20 AM EST
    when the mainstream media create it for their favorite Democratic candidates and against the Dems' frontrunner. After the primaries the media manufacture 'authenticity' only for the Republican candidate.

    Heh (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 11:11:18 PM EST
    Obama is a pol J. This is what politics is.

    "Democratic" politics (none / 0) (#6)
    by Andreas on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:04:29 AM EST
    This is what "Democratic" politics is.

    Not worth calling Obama out? (none / 0) (#13)
    by fairleft on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:41:00 AM EST
    That's all Jeralyn is doing. Seems like the right thing for a left blog to do.

    Senator Punjab over a blind trust, damn.


    Diversionary tactic, perhaps. (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:42:47 AM EST
    NY Times Thursday had an article about a key, long time supporter of Obama who is now facing criminal charges.

    I think he's more than met his match. (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 11:14:50 PM EST
    Really stupid.

    Hmm, how about (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 11:15:48 PM EST
    Obama (?-IL)

    Um no (none / 0) (#5)
    by tommyg on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 11:42:52 PM EST
    I doubt Hillary would take offense since she made the comment herself that she could be Senator of Punjab.  That's what the joke is.
    Also, I'm not aware of Obama saying he was going to avoid negative campaign attacks.  Do you have a direct quote of this?
    Frankly, I'm glad Obama is doing this and I hope he does more of it publicly in the debates.  He needs to take it to Hillary if he wants to win.

    Check out Wiki, which (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:11:05 AM EST
    includes a link:

    Addressing a meeting of the Democratic National Committee one week before announcing his candidacy, Obama called on Democrats to steer clear of negative campaigning, saying: "This can't be about who digs up more skeletons on who, who makes the fewest slip-ups on the campaign trail. We owe it to the American people to do more than that."[106]

    According to the Linked Times Article (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:33:06 AM EST
    The Times reports

    The Clinton campaign has long been frustrated by the effort by Mr. Obama to present his campaign as above the kind of attack politics that Mr. Obama and his aides say has led to widespread disillusionment with politics by many Americans.

    Note that I asked for a "direct quote" (none / 0) (#9)
    by tommyg on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:39:54 AM EST
    What you've provided is the Clinton campaign's belief about what Obama has said.  That's not the same thing.
    The quote above from Wikipedia doesn't mention negative campaigning.  That's just the interpretation by whoever added that to the Wikipedia entry.  It's hardly a pledge to avoid negative politics, certainly not of the type demonstrated in the NY Times article which was extremely mild and practiced by every single campaign.

    Here: (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:50:07 AM EST
    OBAMA: This is not a game. It's not a contest for the TV cameras.

    This is a serious moment for America. And the American people understand that. They're in a sober mood.

    Every single Democrat who speaks before you today is going to have something important and valuable to offer. Over the next year of a primary and the next two years leading to the election of the next president, the campaigns...


    ... the campaigns shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours.


    That's our mission.

    And in this mission, our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against.


    It's the cynicism that's borne from decades of disappointment, amplified by talk radio and 24-hour news cycle, reinforced by the relentless pounding of negative ads that have become the staple of modern politics.

    Wiki article on Obama, footnote 105, includes the transcript from which this was excerpted.  check it out.


    That's a little better (none / 0) (#18)
    by tommyg on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:57:49 AM EST
    but it's still not a statement that he will avoid negative campaigning.  At best, he's just saying that campaign should be more about saying what you'll do for the country rather than what's bad about the other candidates.
    I don't see how that should preclude him from releasing oppo research to reporters.  Hillary is the candidate who has pledged to run a positive campaign.  We'll see if she can keep that up once she starts to lose her lead.  She's playing a dangerous game here.

    By the way, I am part Indian and I see nothing racist or xenophobic here.  It's simply pro-American, regardless of race, and anti-outsourcing.


    As to the YouTube video and (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:18:26 PM EST
    releasing the information on the Clintons' blind trust, apparently Obama sd. he didn't do it.

    Geezus.. give it up (none / 0) (#24)
    by HypeJersey on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:23:48 PM EST
    C'mon.  He hasn't said it in exactly the words you seem to be looking for, but he's relayed the general ideas encapsulated here.  What have there been - like a dozen examples quoting him?  Geez.  Just admit that you weren't aware that Obama had said that sort of thing, mea culpa and let it go.  

    You want _more_ of this? (none / 0) (#15)
    by fairleft on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:43:07 AM EST
    Who wins in the end from widespread use and acceptance of this kind of lying and misleading politics?

    forgot to add (none / 0) (#16)
    by fairleft on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:48:03 AM EST
    that it's also a politics that exploits racism and zenophobia.

    the trustee (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 02:40:48 AM EST
    has a fiduciary duty to invest as well as possible, without regard to potential political fallout. the only "due diligence" required by the trust is to insure the investments are legal.

    since it's a "blind trust", the clintons had zero input into the decision making process, making the comments of the obama campaign even more transparently BS.

    exactly what would sen. obama's campaign have the clinton's do with their financial assets, put them under the mattress, until they retire from public life?

    with regards to the tax on the capital gains, resulting from these disposals, it's capped out at 15%, a far cry from what it used to be. as well, we don't know what their actual basis in the securities is, just the range of market values, so it might not be as bad a hit as it appears on the surface.

    spoken like a true accountant! (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:01:26 PM EST
    Thanks for your input.  If I were an investor (which I am not) I would make a list of the investments they dumped, to take advantage of all that high powered investment advice for free.

    At least the Clintons probably got to seel high. (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:19:27 PM EST
    Expect more of the same (none / 0) (#22)
    by Dulcinea on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 01:37:02 PM EST
    from the Obama camp.

    not really (none / 0) (#25)
    by cpinva on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 01:08:09 AM EST
    who cares? and it has nothing whatever to do with the issue at hand, including the "blind trust".

    Obama can't stop US to become Hindu Nation by 2100 (none / 0) (#27)
    by viduur on Mon Jun 18, 2007 at 08:40:11 PM EST
    Hillary may not be Prez, but Obama can't stop US to become Hindu Nation by 2100.

    Hillary may not be a Senator from Punjab as accused by Obama, but she as well as her husband are popular enough in India to win elections from not only thru Punjab but also from any other Parliamentary Constituency of India.

    I am not very much aware of the ongoing nuisances of American Politics these days but can say this much that Obama seems to be very much disconnect from the realities of today's world and also from the history and destiny of great dem,ocracy of USA.


    It is yet to be revealed in how many ways the destiny of Americans are related to India. But it definitely exceed the growing 'Business Co-operation' in the areas of software outsourcing etc, about which Obama is unduly concerned.

    He should look ahead and beynd the current level of co-operation between the two great democracies, if he is really interested in maintaining the global leadership of US in world scenerio.

    India is not competing with US. They are just co-operative and complimenting the US, so that it discharge its global obligations and commitments without any difficulty and efficiently.

    Had Obama read the following book then he would not have made this mischievious statement, which may have damaged his electoral prospects maximum. The concise book not only summarises the historical reasons of growing affinity between the two democracies but also outline the roadmap for future co-operation to rescue the humanity from the ongoing crisis caused by the religious conflicts.

    The title of the book as well as few topics are sufficient to convey the relevance and the essense as under:

    "HINDULOGY & AMERICA" by Atul K Mehta " Viduur"

    Part III : USA & Hinduism

    1. WaT & 3 Religions

    2. US: Great Democracy created by the Market

    3. Anti-American Syndrome: A great Paradox

    4. Christianity vs American Religion

    5. Should US become a Hindu Nation?

    6. US may become a Hindu Nation by 2100

    7. US needs Gandhi now

    Obama Calls memo a "dumb mistake" (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 18, 2007 at 08:56:49 PM EST