- Win McNamee/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty; Skye Gould/Business Insider
Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban vigorously defended the Clinton Foundation against allegations of “pay to play” that have swept up headlines in recent months.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” said the media is missing what he considered to be the two most important questions regarding the foundation. Those two questions, he said, would provide much more clarity about the situation.
The first question, he said, is “What’s the market for [former President Bill Clinton’s] speeches?”
“I know how much I get paid,” Cuban said. “I can get $250,000 for a speech if it’s a big organization. And I’ll ask for more if you’re making my ass travel somewhere f—– up.”
He said that if Clinton were engaging in a pay-to-play, he’d be asking for a lot more than market value for those speeches and engagements on behalf of the foundation.
“If you’re doing pay for play, you better get a whole lot more than the market value for the risk you’re taking,” he said. “Why hasn’t anybody asked the question?”
The second, he said, is asking what the former president’s “sales pitch” is.
“What’s the sales pitch? Why are they giving you the money?” he asked.
Cuban was recently searching through WikiLeaks for information on Qatar, he said, and stumbled upon one of Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails.
That email was from Cherie Blair, who runs a foundation for women and is the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and it was focused on how Qatar’s young crown prince, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, wanted to build an international profile as a fighter for global food security. Blair wanted to set up a meeting between Hillary Clinton and the crown prince. The former secretary of state agreed to meet.
“So that’s what, that’s not unusual,” Cuban said. “Who has the best brand in the world or global brand for dealing with health initiatives? Bill Clinton.”
Cuban added that if he wanted his daughter to have a great global brand regarding the issue, there’s no doubt enlisting the former president’s services would be the best course of action.
“That’s what he’s selling!” Cuban exclaimed. “No one asks what he’s selling. I mean, it’s perfect for Business Insider: ‘Learn from the Bill Clinton sales pitch for the Clinton Foundation.'”
The billionaire called Republican nominee Donald Trump and his foundation the “perfect contrast” to the Clintons.
Whether the dealings of the Clinton Foundation while the current Democratic nominee held her post at the State Department are controversial comes down to whether a “premium” was paid.
“If there’s no premium, then either the guy’s an idiot or there’s no pay for play,” Cuban said.
- Business Insider
The latest allegations of impropriety against the foundation came after Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog organization, published emails that it said proved Clinton gave donors special access to the State Department while she was running it.
Clinton in July denied such allegations, and her campaign chairman dismissed them in an August statement.
“The foundation has already laid out the unprecedented steps the charity will take if Hillary Clinton becomes president,” campaign chair John Podesta wrote.
Multiple outlets’ editorial boards have called for Clinton to cut ties with the foundation, and Trump has seized on the foundation controversy in his attacks against the former secretary of state.
Trump’s foundation is embattled in its own pay-to-play controversy regarding a 2013 campaign donation it made to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was considering whether to pursue fraud allegations against the defunct Trump University.
Bondi did not pursue the investigation.
Trump was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to the IRS over the $25,000 donation. The Washington Post found that the foundation did not list the contribution in its tax filings, and Trump later reimbursed the foundation for the donation. A Trump Organization senior vice president told The Post that it was “an honest mistake” that the contribution wasn’t properly listed.
On Thursday, Donna Shalala, the president of the Clinton Foundation and the former secretary of health and human services, told CNN that the foundation does “magnificent work” and that “there was a process set up to make sure their lines were not crossed” while the former secretary of state was in power.
But, Shalala added, “when she’s president,” the foundation would have to “actually eliminate any aspect of conflict of interest.”
Cuban endorsed Clinton at a rally in Pittsburgh, his hometown, in July. He called Trump a “jagoff” – a demeaning slang term frequently used in western Pennsylvania – during the event. Cuban has ripped Trump repeatedly on social media in recent months.
Earlier in the cycle, Cuban expressed interest in serving as either Trump’s or Clinton’s running mate before souring on the real-estate magnate’s candidacy. In a tweet last month, he wrote that he knew there “was no chance” that being picked as a running mate would have happened.