Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's foundation received an undisclosed sum in exchange for his keynote address at an event held by Alibaba, the Chinese internet company that controls China Yahoo* and has been accused of aiding China's crackdown in Tibet.
Some activists are trying to tie this money to Sen. Hillary Clinton, saying it conflicts with her statements on China. In addition to claiming she "stood up to" China's government in a speech while Bill was president, she has said President George W. Bush should not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in August because of the recent events in Tibet.
Bill's foundation took Alibaba's money. Alibaba has been criticized recently for an incident in which Yahoo.cn posted a "most wanted" page with photographs of individuals the government sought in connection with the recent unrest. Here, according to the Los Angeles Times how one activist makes the connection from there to Hillary's position:
"A former president of the United States received a donation from a Chinese firm that is involved in censorship, and now his wife is running for president. This is a shame of the U.S.," said Harry Wu, an exiled Chinese activist based in Washington.
I'm all for responsibility with money in politics, but I think this is a stretch. Wu references China Yahoo's censorship of search results. But Microsoft's MSN and Google both also censor results in their Chinese versions. Should candidates then be penalized for taking money from Bill Gates or Larry Page and Sergey Brin? Oh right, the question is, should candidates' spouses be penalized for having any relationship involving money with these three or their companies?
I think it would be hard to make a principled argument that didn't condemn all of the candidates if closely examined. If you want to condemn them all for dealing with money in politics, I won't blame you.
* I have not always been perfectly clear on this. China Yahoo is a subsidiary of Alibaba and is no longer controlled by Yahoo itself, despite the name.