Published May 02, 2016
The latest baggage threatening to dog Hillary Clinton’s expected bid for the White House comes in the form of her brother, who allegedly got help from the Department of Homeland Security in smoothing a business deal.
The department’s inspector general found that Tony Rodham was given special treatment by DHS’ No. 2 in securing visas for foreigners connected to a deal.
Rodham was CEO of an electric car company owned by another longtime Clinton pal, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, when he got help from DHS official Alejandro Mayorkas securing the visas for investors in the firm. It is not clear that Clinton played any role. But the determination could, at least, fuel new questions about what was contained in the thousands of emails sent and received on Clinton's private server while she was secretary of state -- many of which she says were deleted.
"What I would say going forward to Hillary is tell your brother to bug out and to find other ways to make a living other than appearing to trade off your name.”
This isn't the first time Rodham's past has stirred potential problems for his sister. His business dealings were called into question last month, when the Washington Post reported that a mining company whose board he sits on got a coveted gold mining deal from the government of Haiti after the Clintons' charitable foundation performed relief work there.
One Democratic strategist said Rodham’s wheeling and dealing could become a problem for Clinton if and when she officially mounts another campaign for the White House.
“What I would say going forward to Hillary is tell your brother to bug out and to find other ways to make a living other than appearing to trade off your name,” said Fox News contributor and Democratic strategist Doug Schoen. “It's not a political problem for Hillary. It is an appearance problem.”
The alleged special treatment by Mayorkas, meanwhile, does not appear to have hurt his standing with the White House.
“We certainly value the kind of contribution that he has made to the effective management of that department, and he has played an important role in implementing needed reforms in that department,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Republicans, including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, say the independent audit revealed a disturbing pattern.
"Digging into the report and reading about specific cases, you can see just how questionable Mr. Mayorkas' ethics and judgment were,” Grassley said. “And, just as bad, is the blind eye that the Obama administration turned when elevating this individual to the number two slot at the Department of Homeland Security."
Asked by Fox News how fast-tracking visas for politically connected Democrats was acceptable, Earnest said the recipients may have merited the documents anyway.
“[The inspector general] did not suggest that these individuals weren't deserving of a visa,” Earnest said. “What he suggested is merely that the process didn't work very well."
Administration officials stressed the report noted Mayorkas did not break any rule or law.
For his part, Mayorkas said he disagreed with the findings but “will certainly learn from it.”
Fox News' Ed Henry contributed to this report.