7 Hillary Clinton Scandals and Controversies

Why the Former First Lady is a Favorite Target

Hillary Clinton is a former first lady, served as a U.S. senator and was tapped by Barack Obama to serve as secretary of State. So she is a known quantity, so to speak, in American politics. She has been vetted so thoroughly by the press and her critics that her life is an open book.

And yet it seems like there is an awful lot we don't know about Clinton. A new Hillary Clinton scandal or controversy emerges on a regular basis from the pages of conservative media and the airwaves of right-wing talkers, especially as she ramps up her campaign for president in the 2016 election

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Here's a look at seven of the biggest Hillary Clinton scandals and controversies, ones that will likely have an impact on her presidential campaign.

The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal

Hillary Clinton
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton found herself amid a controversy over her use of a personal email address as she geared up for a run for president. Yana Paskova/Getty Images News

Clinton's use of a personal email account during her time as secretary of State appears to be in violation of the Federal Records Act, a 1950 law that mandates the preservation of most records related to conducting government business. The records are important for Congress, historians and the public. 

Hillary Clinton Changed Her Mind About Same-Sex Marriage

Getty Images News/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's position on same-sex marriage has evolved over time. Clinton would not support same-sex marriage during her 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But she reversed course and endorsed same-sex marriage in March 2013, saying that "gay rights are human rights."

Hillary Clinton and Benghazi

Hillary Clinton photo
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is said to be a potential 2016 presidential candidate. Johannes Simon/Getty Images News

It's the Hillary Clinton controversy that Republicans can't seem to let go of, no matter how many times she tries to explain herself. Critics, particularly those in the Republican party, claimed Clinton and the Obama administration covered up the fact that the attack was an act of terror, and that it was unprepared for such an event, so that it would not damage his chance at re-election in 2012.

Hillary Clinton's Wealth and Her Focus on the Middle Class

Sen. Clinton at EMILY's List - DNC 2008
Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has made the middle class a central part of her campaign for president. But her focus on the growing gap between the wealthy and the poorest Americans may ring hollow given her own personal wealth, which is as much as $25.5 million.

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It doesn't help that former President Bill Clinton has raked in $106 million in speaking fees since leaving the White House in 2001.

The Clinton Whitewater Scandal

President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton was often criticized for waffling. The White House

The term Whitewater was so ubiquitous when Bill Clinton was running for president in the 1990s. The complicated nature of the failed land and development deal involving the Clintons, though, made it tough for many voters to actually care. Hillary Clinton has stated repeatedly: "At the end of the day, the American people will know that we have nothing to cover up."

The Clinton Foundation Scandal

Former President Bill Clinton
White House

According to published reports, a nonprofit established by Bill Clinton called the Clinton Foundation accepted money from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of State. The concern is that those countries were trying to buy influence with the Clinton-led Department of State.

Vince Foster Suicide and Urban Legends

The conspiracy theorists ran wild when Vince Foster, a longtime friend and political ally of the Clintons, killed himself with a handgun in 1993. They surmised that Foster knew too much about the Clintons and was murdered. "Rumors about his death shook the stock market and dogged the president. Foster came to be seen by many as the key to a vault of dark secrets about some of the most powerful people in the world," The Washington Post wrote in 1994.

But as About.com's Urban Legends expert David Emery wrote: "No fewer than five official investigations were conducted into the circumstances of his death, and none found evidence of foul play."

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Murse, Tom. "7 Hillary Clinton Scandals and Controversies." ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2021, thoughtco.com/hillary-clinton-scandals-and-controversies-3367580. Murse, Tom. (2021, September 1). 7 Hillary Clinton Scandals and Controversies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/hillary-clinton-scandals-and-controversies-3367580 Murse, Tom. "7 Hillary Clinton Scandals and Controversies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/hillary-clinton-scandals-and-controversies-3367580 (accessed February 9, 2023).