Bill and Hillary Clinton’s time in the public eye has never been short of scandals – much to the delight of the rumor mill and conspiracy theorists. Hillary first entered the spotlight when her husband Bill ran for office in 1974, and both of them have faced numerous investigations ever since.

What are Clinton Scandals?

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s scandals have mainly involved financial and sexual matters.

This article will cover the most prominent scandals of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s careers.

The early Clinton scandals

Hillary Clinton, often alongside her husband and former president Bill Clinton, has a long history of scandal and controversy.

The earliest stretch back to when Bill Clinton was running for office, when past and present scandals were dug up and circulated, often by conservative media outlets.

Whitewater

Whitewater was one of the Clintons’ earliest controversies and one of the first reasons they gained a name as untrustworthy schemers amongst conservatives – but unjust victims of persecution amongst democrats.

The controversy arose when Bill was serving as Arkansas Attorney General in 1978, and he and Hillary were seeking a source of additional income. Hillary wrote in her 2003 memoir ‘Living History,’

“I had never given much thought to savings or investments until I realized that if our growing family were going to have any financial cushion, it would be mostly my responsibility.”

And so Hillary made an initial investment of $1,000 in cattle futures, which grew to almost $100,000 in under a year. The odds on such a return were around 1 in 31 trillion, which of course, aroused suspicions.

Furthermore, in 1978 Bill and Hillary created Whitewater Development Corporation, intending to buy 230 acres of riverfront land and sell them as lots for vacation homes.

Not only were the Clintons cut a deal that didn’t require any upfront investment, but the man who cut that deal (Jim McDougal) would eventually go on to defraud the investment firm Capital Management Services of $3 million.

Consequently, it ended up costing the government $73 million. The Clintons’ proximity to such a significant fraud would provide the initial ammunition for heightened suspicions around the couple.

Photo of Bill Clinton at the podium
Former President Bill Clinton is no stranger to controversy.

 Troopergate

Troopergate became the widely-quoted name for a 1990s controversy involving Bill Clinton. The scandal emerged when Arkansas State Troopers claimed that they had arranged sexual liaisons for Bill Clinton during his time as Arkansas governor.

This scandal involved Hillary Clinton because the State Troopers claimed that they played a part in helping Bill deceive her. They maintained Bill Clinton asked them to inform him of Hillary’s whereabouts and lie to her about where he was.

This furthered the reputation of the Clintons as secret-keepers.

Paula Jones

Continuing with the public reports of sexual misconduct that plagued Bill Clinton’s presidency and led to suspicions around his marriage to Hillary was the landmark US Supreme Court case Clinton v Jones.

Photo of the US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court case Clinton v Jones further tarnished Bill Clinton’s reputation in the eyes of many Americans.

In 1994, Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton. The case tarnished Clinton’s presidency until he reached an out-of-court settlement with Jones for $850,000.

Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky was another woman involved in a sex scandal with Bill Clinton. Ms. Lewinsky was a 22-year-old White House intern that participated in a sexual relationship with President Clinton between 1995 and 1997.

monica lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky giving a TED talk about being Monica Lewinsky!

Clinton famously denied the claims in his 1998 speech where he stated that he

“did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Not only did this latest sex scandal create a public opinion that the Clinton marriage was one full of deceit, and the notion that Bill Clinton was somewhat of a sexual deviant. This would later be used to discredit Hillary by association. The Lewinsky case led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, although he was later acquitted on all impeachment charges.

Travelgate

The Travelgate controversy was about the Clintons firing people from the White House at its core. However, amid intense public mistrust for the Clintons and Republican rejection of the Clinton leadership, it became an issue that required Congressional investigation.

When Bill Clinton and his first lady Hillary Clinton settled into the White House in 1993, they inherited the White House travel office – the office in charge of booking travel and accommodation for White House press trips. 

It soon became clear that the office’s book-keeping was not up to scratch and that money was being funneled into personal accounts by staff. After an investigation conducted by KPMG found $18,200 in discrepancies, the travel office staff were fired.

Hillary Clinton was blamed for demanding the firings, although there was no evidence that she had a direct role.

Vince Foster’s suicide

Vince Foster Sketch
It has been suggested that Vince Foster was killed by the Clinton Camp. However, the evidence shows otherwise.

Vince Foster was a deputy counsel to President Bill Clinton in 1993. His involvement in the Travelgate scandal meant that he was looking for a private attorney at the time of his suicide.

He committed suicide in a Virgina park after reportedly reaching out to his sister to say he was severely depressed. 

However, it soon became a fast-spreading conspiracy theory that both Bill and Hillary Clinton had been involved in Vince Foster’s death.

The theory proposed that the Clintons wanted Foster out of the picture because of his knowledge of previous Clinton scandals. And yet, numerous investigations have looked into Vince Foster’s death in the years that followed, and they all concluded that he died by suicide.

A lasting impact

The controversies that plagued both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s were a combination of the spurious such as Vince Foster, to the serious but wholly investigated such as Whitewater, Travelgate, and the numerous sexual misconduct charges

Photo of President Donald Trump
Republican Candidate Donald Trump used Clinton scandals to his advantage during his successful 2016 Presidential campaign.

However, the public perception of these scandals continues to impact Hillary Clinton’s career to the present day. For instance, one historic rape allegation made by Juanita Broaddrick against Bill Clinton resurfaced in 2016 and was used by future president Donald Trump to discredit his then-opponent Hillary.

Scandals post-presidency

The Clinton Foundation

Bill Clinton established this foundation in 1997, but it became a much larger part of his and Hillary’s career after his presidency ended. The purpose of the Clinton Foundation was to advocate for a wide range of causes close to Bill and Hillary’s political and philanthropic beliefs.

Projects involved everything from assisting with small businesses’ growth to aiding children in need, protecting elephants, and public health. It went on to become an incredibly well-known nonprofit organization with several offshoots.

The foundation later changed its name following Hillary’s time as Secretary of State, becoming the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. 

The element of scandal comes into play with critique and suspicion around the foundation’s funds. Some reports have claimed that the funds raised for a cause have not always ended up with the right recipient or that the money never ends up achieving the purpose that it claimed it was going to do.

The foundation has also previously made errors with its taxes. 

Consequently, questions have arisen about whether the foundation was used by the Clintons to give money to nonprofits owned by their friends and the conflicts of interest involved during Hillary’s time as Secretary of State.

When Hillary took the job in the United States State Department, she stated that she would be making certain disclosures about the foundation’s activity. Still, it later became clear that this didn’t always happen.

Paid Speaking Opportunities

Another of the Clintons’ financial initiatives since leaving the White House was to enter the business of making speeches. Like her husband Bill, Hillary would get paid millions of dollars to make speeches to various corporations and at private events around the world. This becomes a problem when it presents the potential for conflict of interest with the Clintons’ political endeavors. 

For instance, during the run-up to the 2016 election, Hillary was getting paid millions of dollars to speak to banks like Goldman Sachs. Then-opponent Bernie Sanders used this against her, arguing that the transcripts from such speeches should be released to the public.

Hillary retorted that she would only release the transcripts if every other candidate agreed to do the same, which of course, never happened. 

Furthermore, some of these speeches were done on behalf of the Clinton Foundation, which meant the money went to charity. 

Meanwhile, other speeches were treated as a source of personal income for the Clintons.

Some questions were –

How did they decide which speech was for personal gain and which was for charity?

Were there quid pro quos involved?

These are the questions that much of the public wanted to be answered if Hillary continued with a career in politics.

Benghazi

The Benghazi attacks happened on September 11, 2012, when a group of attackers went on a rampage at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Several Americans were killed, including United States Ambassador Chris Stevens. 

Since the attacks, Republicans have blamed Hillary Clinton for the event, who was then Obama’s Secretary of State. They claimed she’d failed to protect the US consulate and citizens abroad.

They have also claimed that Hillary lied about the attacks being spontaneous, stating that she must have known that they were planned. Clinton later had to testify against this charge.

The inquiry found that numerous factors were to blame for the Benghazi attacks, such as the lack of security preparations for such an event. However, at no point in the inquiry was Hillary Clinton found to be guilty of lying, covering up, or doing anything suspicious on the night of the attacks.

However, during this inquiry, the private email story was revealed. The collection of unreleased emails uncovered some new information, but nothing that incriminated Clinton in Benghazi.

Hillary Clinton’s State Department Emails

In the 21st century, the main scandal everyone associates with Hillary Clinton is her emails.

Even the most moderate Republicans have continued to use the email scandal to discredit Hillary, while the less moderate have used it to fuel deep state conspiracies.

However, before delving into the contents released in Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal, first comes the contents of the emails that she turned over to the state amid the Benghazi inquiry. 

Not all of the emails Clinton turned over to the state are available to the public. However, the real scandal was that many of the email chains contained classified information.

For instance, one email chain saw Hillary forward classified government information to her daughter Chelsea Clinton. Which meant ultimately, the scandal added to Hillary’s mistrustful image, as there was now proof that she had mishandled highly sensitive government information.

Much of the content of the emails remains to be seen, not least because Clinton failed to turn them all over to the State. However, many of the emails have been seized through the court, and the State Department continues to release them gradually.

The private email server

When the Benghazi investigation required Hillary Clinton to turn over her emails to the state, a New York Times journalist called Michael Schmidt uncovered that the Clintons had a private email server.

Hillary used a personal email account during her time as Secretary of State. The private server was located at her home in Chappaqua, New York. This meant that Hillary Clinton and her staff could choose which emails to turn over to the State Department and which to destroy.

The real scandal was Clinton’s flawed approach to emails and the lack of security, which led to a large amount of criticism from the State Department Inspector General and beyond. However, the Justice Department consequently announced that it would not be pressing criminal charges against Clinton. 

FBI director James Comey said on the matter,

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”.