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They’re hitting on two controversial issues buffeting Hillary Clinton -- the Clinton Foundation and State Department emails.
The ad uses loaded language in making a somewhat convoluted claim.
Let’s take a look.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/9962fa26-c63a-4fcd-a9c9-2010b28c7281
The ad, which is essentially a web page, starts with this in red capital letters: "End the Hillary-Feingold corruption."
The main text says:
"Just like Hillary Clinton, Senator Feingold has had his own run in with corruption and scandal by using a personal slush fund -- a.k.a. The Feingold Foundation -- while plotting another run for U.S. Senate.
"After months of lawsuits related to Hillary’s emails, the State Department is now withholding Senator Feingold’s emails from public release until after the November election. Help end the Hillary-Feingold corruption by demanding Senator Feingold’s emails be released immediately."
So, the claim is that "just like Clinton," Feingold had a "run-in with corruption and scandal by using a personal slush fund" -- the "Feingold Foundation" -- while "plotting" to run for the Senate seat he lost to Johnson in 2010.
Then there’s the reference to State Department emails.
Let’s look at this in two parts.
‘Personal slush fund’
The "personal slush fund" allegation, refers to Progressives United -- a political action committee Feingold founded after he lost his try for a fourth term in the Senate.
In June 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel watchdog columnist Daniel Bice revealed that the PAC had given a mere 5 percent of its income to federal candidates and political parties. Feingold and nine of his former campaign and U.S. Senate staffers drew salaries or consulting fees from the PAC. For instance, Feingold's longtime chief of staff was paid $317,823 by the PAC and a related nonprofit from February 2011 until July 2013, when she left to take a job joining Feingold at the U.S. State Department. And Feingold received $77,000 from the two groups.
Moreover, $42,609 was spent to buy hundreds of copies of a book he authored (though Feingold did not receive royalties for those books).
The Wisconsin GOP acknowledged to us that it is referring to the PAC as the "Feingold Foundation" and that there isn’t such a foundation.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation, an international health and development charity, has been controversial for very different reasons.
Wisconsinite Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, claimed that 80 percent of the foundation’s money goes to overhead, PolitiFact National’s rating was False. But the figure was only 10 to 20 percent.
The Clinton Foundation has been criticized more for potential conflicts of interest, not its spending. It has accepted millions in foreign donations, including from countries with business in front of the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Donors were able to get access to Clinton. For example, Clinton had been reluctant to grant a meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain after he made requests through official channels. But a short-notice meeting was granted to the prince, whose government gave more than $50,000 to the Clintons’ charity, after a longtime Clinton aide who helped create the foundation interceded.
‘Plotting another run’
As for the ad’s allegation that Feingold was operating a personal slush fund while "plotting" his 2016 run for the Senate, the state GOP told us that Feingold is "just like Hillary Clinton" in that there are questions surrounding his time at the State Department.
But once again, the circumstances involving Feingold and Clinton are quite different.
The party alleges that Feingold violated federal law by engaging in political activities as a federal employee -- that is, planning his Senate run while he worked as a special envoy for the African Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A conservative website says the State Department has agreed to its requests to provide emails Feingold exchanged with top Senate Democrats and two of his former aides, although it’s not known whether the release will come before the Nov. 8, 2016 election.
Feingold has denied any wrongdoing.
In contrast, Clinton has faced much more than partisan allegations over her State Department emails.
It has been well established that Clinton exclusively used a private email address while serving as secretary of state. Because she didn’t use the government system, the department didn’t have her emails on hand when the House Select Committee on Benghazi asked to see them.
So in 2014, Clinton’s lawyers combed through the private server and turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department and deleted the rest, which Clinton said were about personal matters.
Clinton had repeatedly said she did not have any classified emails on her server, but the results of the FBI investigation show that claim incorrect. There was not enough evidence to charge her with a crime, but her email setup exposed her to hacking.
The Wisconsin GOP says that "just like" Clinton, Feingold had a "run-in with corruption and scandal by using a personal slush fund -- a.k.a. the Feingold Foundation -- while plotting another run for U.S. Senate."
There is no Feingold Foundation. The "personal slush fund" reference is to a political action committee established by Feingold that spent significant sums that benefited Feingold -- for salaries and consulting fees to Feingold and his former aides, and to buy copies of a book he wrote.
But the Clinton Foundation got into controversy not over its spending, but for potential conflicts of interest, given that it accepted donations from foreign countries that had business before Clinton as secretary of state.
And while Clinton clearly broke State Department rules by setting up a private email system, nothing has been established beyond allegations that Feingold did anything improper with emails during his employment by the State Department.
For a statement that has only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.
Wisconsin Republican Party, digital ad Sept. 12, 2016
Wisconsin Republican Party, news release, Sept. 12, 2016
Email, Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Pat Garrett, Sept. 28, 2016Wisconsin Republican Party Pat Garrett
Email, Russ Feingold campaign spokesman Michael Tyler, Oct. 3, 2016
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Russ Feingold's PAC funded fees, salaries for former staffers, himself," June 15, 2015
PolitiFact National, "PolitiFact Sheet: Hillary Clinton’s email controversy," July 19, 2016
PolitiFact National, "Fact-checking the Clinton Foundation controversy," Sept. 1, 2016
Washington Post, "Emails reveal how foundation donors got access to Clinton and her close aides at State Dept.," Aug. 22, 2016
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