Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Clinton's sleazy donor - InfoUSA

Ouch. Ouch.

Hilary and Bill Clinton trn out to have an old "friend" and multi-million dollar "donor" who runs a sleazy business. Vinod Gupta is the CEO of InfoUSA, a company known for the information they provide to the highest bidder:
... InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”..
Gupta's been gifting millions to the Clintons for years:

...Gupta has steadfastly believed that to get what you want done in America, you have to put your money where your mouth is.

He held a $1000-a-person fundraiser last March at his home in Omaha, Nebraska, for Hillary Clinton that raised $100,000 for her senate campaign.

He also raised $500,000 for a large party last May for Clinton and Al Gore. His political contributions put him in the company of entertainment moguls like Steven Spielberg and Haim Saban...

He's a big donor. I wonder what Hilary's real record is on consumer privacy detection, and the management of abuses by companies like InfoUSA.

Recently, the same newspaper that exposed InfoUSA's profitable relationship with international criminals preying the elderly had some more on InfoUSA's relationship with the Clintons (emphases mine)...
Suit Sheds Light on Clintons’ Ties to a Benefactor - New York Times
May 26, 2007 By MIKE McINTIRE

When former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took a family vacation in January 2002 to Acapulco, Mexico, one of their longtime supporters, Vinod Gupta, provided his company’s private jet to fly them there.

The company, infoUSA, one of the nation’s largest brokers of information on consumers, paid $146,866 to ferry the Clintons, Mr. Gupta and others to Acapulco and back, court records show. During the next four years, infoUSA paid Mr. Clinton more than $2 million for consulting services, and spent almost $900,000 to fly him around the world for his presidential foundation work and to fly Mrs. Clinton to campaign events.

Those expenses are cited in a lawsuit filed late last year in a Delaware court by angry shareholders of infoUSA, who assert that Mr. Gupta wasted the company’s money trying “to ingratiate himself” with his high-profile guests.

The disclosure of the trips and the consulting fees is just a small part of a broader complaint about the way Mr. Gupta has managed his company. But for the former president, and for the senator who would become president, it offers significant new details about their relationship with an unusually generous benefactor whose business practices have lately come under scrutiny.

In addition to the shareholder accusations, The New York Times reported last Sunday that an investigation by the authorities in Iowa found that infoUSA sold consumer data several years ago to telemarketing criminals who used it to steal money from elderly Americans. It advertised call lists with titles like “Elderly Opportunity Seekers” or “Suffering Seniors,” a compilation of people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. The company called the episodes an aberration and pledged that it would not happen again.

Asked to describe Mr. Clinton’s consulting services, an infoUSA official said they were limited to making appearances at one or two company events each year. Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, would not elaborate on what the former president does for infoUSA, but said that he shared the public’s concern about misuse of personal information.

“It goes without saying that any suggestion that seniors are being preyed upon should be fully investigated and addressed by the appropriate agencies,” Mr. Carson said.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton were at pains to distance her from infoUSA, pointing out that she had sponsored legislation that would strengthen privacy rights of consumers. As for the flights on infoUSA’s plane, Phil Singer, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, said the senator “complied with all the relevant ethics rules” on accepting private air travel.

Ethics rules for senators and candidates require only that the recipient of a flight make reimbursement at a rate equal to that of a first-class ticket, a long-derided loophole that allows special interests to provide de facto gifts of expensive private air travel, which generally costs far more than commercial fares. Mr. Singer would not say what Mrs. Clinton paid for her flights...

...“When the C.E.O. of a publicly traded company can say with a straight face that the shareholders benefit from having a yacht with an all-female crew stationed in the Virgin Islands, then you’ve got a problem,” Mr. Denton said...

...InfoUSA made $2.1 million in quarterly payments to Mr. Clinton from July 2003 to April 2005, and in October 2005 entered into a new three-year agreement to pay him $1.2 million. It also gave him an option to buy 100,000 shares of infoUSA stock, with no expiration date....

...Mr. Clinton normally commands $125,000 to $300,000 for the many speeches he gives each year, and has earned almost $40 million on the lecture circuit since leaving office...

Mr. Dean also said that the numerous flights infoUSA provided for Mr. Clinton’s nonprofit foundation activities constituted charitable donations, for which the company was entitled to a tax deduction. The flights included trips to European capitals, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii and Mr. Clinton’s home state of Arkansas...
The thought of Bill Clinton on all female yacht in the Virgin Islands is irresistible.

Edwards looks better all the time.

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