Just as Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President, Washington was already buzzing about the next great Clinton scandal.
The book on everyone’s mind was “Clinton Cash,” the latest offering from conservative author and activist Peter Schweizer. Set for release next month, Schweizer is marketing the book as a story of a corrupt dynasty, an expose of her family’s unsavory connections with foreign donors.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that it and other media outlets had cut deals with the conservative writer to access his research on the Clintons before the book was published. While many on the right appeared giddy, those in the pro-Clinton camp wasted no time slamming Schweizer as a Republican hack.
The terms of the deals are still opaque, and even the book’s harshest critics admit they have not read its conclusions. But Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and frequent Republican consultant, has a reputation and a body of work that may shed some light on his latest efforts.
Here are a few details, some lesser known, about the author of “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
Before “Clinton Cash,” Schweizer had already made a name for himself in conservative circles as a dogged investigator of government corruption. His previous two books also took aim at crooked politicians and the revolving doors in Washington, DC.
Schweizer railed against cronyism with a small-government populist bent in his 2011 book, “Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison.” In 2013, he followed that up with, “Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.”
The former was taken seriously by some lawmakers for its investigation of insider trading by Congress. Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) cited Schweizer’s book in a hearing on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, calling “Throw Them All Out” a key resource in understanding insider trading.
His critics may have trouble painting him as totally partisan: The next target will reportedly be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Schweizer told Bloomberg that he’s planning to release a book on Bush’s “cronyism” this summer.
His 2011 book wasn’t an entirely clean shot. In fact, Schweizer later had to acknowledge and retract a substantial allegation against Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Schweizer had suggested that Whitehouse gained inside trading info from top executive branch officials during a private session amid the 2007 financial crisis before going on to sell a mass of stock just before its value plummeted.
But an article in The Providence Journal, flagged by Media Matters on Monday, fisked Schweizer’s account and revealed that Whitehouse been absent from the committee that met with the officials. What’s more, Schweizer failed to report on publicly available information that could have informed Whitehouse on when to sell is stock.
Schweizer later said he had misfired and would not have taken a swipe at Whitehouse if he had had the facts right.
“No, I probably would not have mentioned him,” Schweizer told the Journal, and promised to correct the facts in his book.
Though he now brands himself as a specialist on fat cat politicians, a glance at Schweizer’s biography reveals that he was once a passionate soldier in the culture wars. But you wouldn’t know that from his website.
Schweizer’s site claims to list all his work, under the section “All Books,” but a couple pieces are missing from his shelf of small-government and pro-Reagan hagiography.
First is “Disney, The Mouse Betrayed: Greed, Corruption, and Children at Risk,” published in 1998.
In passages of the book reviewed by TPM, Schweizer argued that Disney World had become ground-zero for gay infiltration. Among the betrayals of Mickey Mouse, and traditional America, were rampant “gay activism,” cases of gay employees receiving special health benefits, and park performers dressing in drag. He also included an appendix titled, “Disney’s Pedophile Problem.”
An excerpt, describing one “cross dressing Minnie Mouse”:
Minnie Mouse is one of the most popular characters at Disney World. But inside that costume is one of the Magic Kingdom’s most bizarre secrets. At the new Disney, Minnie Mouse is often a man. ‘Because the costume is so small, the Mickey Mouse character is played by a girl since it usually only fits on a girl,’ says Spencer Craig, who worked at Disney World for almost twenty-five years.
Schweizer wrote with some urgency about the “gay subculture that is today blossoming at Disney.”
“It seems that some gay male employees at Disney World enjoy playing the feminine mouse, flirting with and comically embarrassing male guests,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, “The Next War,” co-authored by former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, outlined a dystopic world in which rogue regimes and terrorists had won the day. The book, also unlisted on his site, was apparently pitching more aggressive global missile defense system.
An Amazon Review gives a flavor:
“[A]n Iranian-led jihad is unleashed throughout the Persian Gulf as fundamentalists rise up against secular Arab governments and organize terrorist strikes in the United States, while a nuclear weapon is detonated in Europe.”
As Crooks and Liars pointed out, Schweizer’s Government Accountability Institute, a 501(c)(3), is funded by three conservative powerhouse donors.
First up would be the infamous Koch brothers, who contribute to most of GAI’s funding through the Franklin Center, a “free market” organization dedicated to “democratizing journalism.” Also in play is the Koch-run Donors’ Trust, a political “slush fund,” according to the blog.
From Crooks and Liars:
Of the total $2.2 million received in 2012, $2 million came from the Franklin Center, the Koch-funded “watchdog” organization. Perhaps coincidentally, the Franklin Center also received a $2 million contribution in 2012 from Donors’ Capital, the sister organization to Donors’ Trust.
Next is the Mercer Family Foundation, headed up by the eponymous hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer. As Crooks and Liars noted, Mercer’s main targets are usually congressmen trying to roll back the power of Wall Street. Mother Jones reported that Mercer is currently the top bankroller for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign.