Thursday, April 30, 2015

President Obama and the Invisible GOP Senator

    The White House has always contended that President Obama is eager to talk to and work with Republicans. In the interest of bipartisanship, the president invited Republican Senator Rob Portman to the Oval Office Thursday for a signing ceremony for the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, a bill Portman had sponsored. To commemorate the event, official White House photographer Pete Souza took a picture of the two talking after the ceremony. The photo may not find its way into Portman's scrapbook, however:

    Silver lining: If the law turns out to be a dud, Portman at least has a plausible shot at deniability.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Veterans Affairs Spent $5K for 'Floor Cleaning' For Obama's Visit

    A year after news broke of the waiting list scandal at the Veterans Administration medical facility in Phoenix, AZ, President Obama finally visited the facility in March. And while they didn't quite roll out the red carpet for the president, they did clean the floors - and spent $5,000 to do it.
    A record of the contract is posted at the USASpending.gov website, and included in the details is the description "FLOOR CLEANING SERVICE FOR POTUS VISIT."

    The contract posting also indicates that "urgency" required a non-competitive contract award, and "only one source" was investigated to complete the work. News of the planned visit came out just days in advance of the president's trip.
    While at the Phoenix medical center, the president held a roundtable discussion where he heard from veterans, and also announced the formation of the MyVA Advisory Committee:
The MyVA Advisory Committee will advise the VA on additional ways the VA can work to improve customer service delivery and veterans’ outcomes. President Obama also charged the new committee with assessing what progress has already been made at the VA to improve veterans’ access to quality medical care.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

John Kerry's State Dept. Silent on Israel's Independence Day

    Despite issuing statements commemorating the National Days or Independence Days of nearly 170 countries in the past twelve months, Secretary of State John Kerry allowed the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the nation of Israel to pass without comment. This is the third year in a row Kerry has failed to officially recognize Israel's Independence Day. Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, issued statements noting the occasion during the last two years of her tenure, 2011 and 2012.
    At the White House, President Obama this year missed marking the day with a statement for only the second time in his presidency. Vice President Biden, however, did attend an Israeli Independence Day Celebration at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington Thursday night. (President Obama was at the Ritz Carlton Hotel to deliver remarks and answers questions at an Organizing for Action dinner.)
    Earlier this month, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported that during Kerry's tenure, the State Department has tended to overlook Christian and Jewish occasions in favor of Islamic holidays and those of other faiths. (In the meantime, Kerry did recognize Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, this year on April 16.) For that story, a senior State Department official commented that the "State Department and White House work together to address national days and religious holidays to share the sentiments and best wishes of the American people." It is unclear why neither the State Department nor the White House marked Israel's 67th anniversary with official statements.
    In the past twelve months, Kerry has released official remarks on the National Days of countries such as Uganda, Somalia, Burkina Faso and even China's 65th year as the Communist Peoples Republic of China. Last July, Kerry congratulated Venezuela on the 203rd anniversary of that country's independence.
     Notably, shortly before Israel's Independence Day in 2014, Kerry issued a sharply worded statement excoriating those who questioned his support for Israel, saying that he "walked the walk when it came time to vote and ... fight" for Israel. Kerry had been quoted in a Daily Beast report as saying Israel was at risk of becoming "an apartheid state" if Middle East peace talks failed. Although Kerry said he should have "chosen a different word", he declared, "I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes[.]"
    About a week later on May 6, 2014, the White House released a statement commemorating Israel's Independence Day. Kerry, who met with European Union High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton, had no words on Israel in his only public remarks on that day.
    On this year's anniversary, Kerry made a statement on Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) Day; made remarks on Take Your Child to Work Day at the State Department; spoke on Renewing U.S. Leadership Through Economic Strength, and recorded a video greeting for Climate Partners. The 67th anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel, however, passed unnoticed.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kerry: Nations Prosper When 'Citizens Have Faith in Their Governments'

    Speaking Tuesday at the 45th Annual Washington Conference of the Council of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry said that "countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law." Kerry said that a "new kind of relationship" with Latin American countries, emphasizing democracy and human rights, will contribute to "our common agenda for the hemisphere." Here are Kerry's remarks in fuller context:
At the UN Human Rights Council last fall, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay joined the United States in sponsoring a resolution in support of LGBT rights. Our landmark Open Government Partnership, which the United States launched with Brazil five years ago, is now chaired by Mexico. And over the past three years, we have worked with partners, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Jamaica, to help strengthen the independent bodies of the Inter-American Human Rights System. Many of the globe’s leading voices for human rights and the rule of law, obviously, share Spanish as their native tongue. 
Why does this matter? Well, it matters because countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law. It matters because young people who have opportunities at home will stay and contribute to their societies instead of leaving in search of better luck elsewhere. It matters because freedom of thought and expression are the keys to innovation, which is how whole new industries begin. It matters because, in that most curious of ways, people who are given the liberty to be different are also the ones most likely to unite and band together in the face of shared threats.
    If faith in government is a necessary factor for a country's economic and social advancement, a recent Pew Research Center study, via the Washington Post, is not a good sign. The Post notes that the study found that only "23 percent [of Americans] trust the federal government to do the right thing 'at least most of the time.'"

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Did Susan Rice Disclose Classified Info on Iran?

     Bloomberg's Eli Lake reports Tuesday that the Obama administration kept secret until the beginning of April Iran's two to three month breakout time for a nuclear weapon, saying "the administration only declassified this estimate at the beginning of the month, just in time for the White House to make the case for its Iran deal to Congress and the public."
     Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, speaking to reporters on Monday, said that the administration has held this assessment for "quite some time." Lake says that Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, confirmed Monday "that the two-to-three-month estimate for fissile material was declassified on April 1."
     However, at least one member of the administration publicly spoke about the two-to-three-month breakout time frame prior to April. On March 2, 2015, National Security Advisor Susan Rice addressed the annual AIPAC meeting and said the following [emphasis added]:
This is my third point—a good deal is one that would verifiably cut off every pathway for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.  Every single one. 
Any deal must prevent Iran from developing weapons-grade plutonium at Arak, or anywhere else. 
Any deal must prevent Iran from enriching uranium at its nuclear facility at Fordow—a site we uncovered buried deep underground and revealed to the world in 2009 
Any deal must increase the time it takes Iran to reach breakout capacity—the time it would take to produce a single bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium.  Today, experts suggest Iran’s breakout window is just two to three months.  We seek to extend that to at least one year.
     Rice's disclosure suggests that either DNI spokesman Brian Hale is incorrect in his assertion that the assessment was declassified on April 1, or Rice revealed classified information.
     The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Rice's March disclosure.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

White House Graphic Distorts Impact of Climate Change

    As Earth Day approaches, the White House is once again pushing action on climate change, presenting a rather stark contrast between action and inaction on carbon emissions. Monday, the following graphic appeared in a White House tweet, presenting almost a night-and-day difference between the status quo and adopting the president's policies:

    The way in which the White House chose to present the alternatives, however, seems to be designed to exaggerate the difference between the two.
     Although both the graphic and tweet display a link to the Climate Change page on the White House website, the map showing worldwide temperature variances does not appear there, although the same graphic has appeared several times in the past on the White House Twitter account. 
     The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, does present similar maps on its website. The following graphic shows low emissions, medium-high emissions, and high emissions scenarios during three time periods: 2011-2030; 2046-2065; and 2080-2099:

     The White House apparently chose to present only the longest range projection, the one extending to the end of the 21st century. But by using a different color scheme than the EPA and by leaving out any actual reference to the period of time being portrayed, the White House overdramatizes the comparison. Rather than a more gradual transition from greens and yellows to oranges and reds, the White House scale abruptly changes at the seven-degree mark from a dull gold to a rather dark orange that is almost indistinguishable from the next color, a dark red that represents the nine to eleven degree range. The result is striking. Here again is the White House map:

And here is a composite map representing the world split in half like the White House map, except using the EPA maps for low emissions versus high emissions:

     The difference is still apparent, yet far different from the extraordinary contrast implied by the White House graphic. The White House did not respond to a request for the source of the map using for its graphic.
     Of course, those who question the models and projections that the White House, the EPA and others rely on to press their case for draconian reductions in emissions reject the premise that human activity is driving a catastrophic increase in global temperatures. These skeptics are not likely to be swayed by the above maps in any case. But by presenting nearly a century of projections in such a misleading way, the Obama administration appears to be trying to manipulate those sitting on the fence to buy into a doomsday scenario that calls for the president's policies to avoid endangering the entire planet.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

State Dept. to Offer Course on Ethics for Journalists: 'Blurred Lines'

     The U.S. State Department is looking to design and facilitate a media ethics course for journalists in India, and has even proposed appropriating the name of Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" as a title for the course. The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad, India is looking for a non-profit to co-develop the course to help Indian journalists gain a "baseline understanding of the international industry standards," including "accuracy, honesty, transparency, impartiality, and accountability," and is willing to spend $20,000 - $25,000 on it.
     The grant documents note that credibility is a key part of journalists' jobs to "keep their readership informed, hold us all accountable, filter fact from fiction, and unmask false narratives masquerading as truth." To that end, the State Department would like a full-time faculty member to propose curriculum content and develop a syllabus tailored to communicate journalistic standards to an Indian university audience. Additionally, the grant calls for a "U.S.-based, university-level journalism professor," suggested by the non-profit subject to approval by the State Department, to act as consultant in the development of the course.
     Once the course preparation is complete, the journalism professor will visit India at least three times: to meet with the coordinating university in India and "observe existing on-the-job training in various media houses", to conduct a three day seminar for other stakeholders, and to participate in first offering of the newly-designed course. The grant specifies that both the accommodations for the professor and the venue for the seminar must be a four-star hotel.
    The Indian universities of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha are singled as as participants in this project, but once developed, the State Department plans to make the material available for potential use by other diplomatic offices around India in coordination with other Indian universities around the country.
    The grant announcement for "Blurred Lines" comes a month after Robin Thicke and co-songwriter Pharrell Williams were found by a court to have been guilty of their own ethical lapses in the writing of the song of the same name. The two have been ordered to pay over $7 million to Marvin Gaye's estate over plagiarism of Gaye's 1977 song "Got to Give It Up."

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New at the Clinton Presidential Center: Dinosaurs!

    Although "life-sized roaring, breathing dinosaurs" may not typically be found at a Presidential Center, visitors to the Clinton Presidential Center will soon find not just one, but thirteen of the prehistoric creatures as part of Dinosaurs Around the World, which runs from April 25 to October 18 at the Center's location in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jack Horner, a paleontologist involved with the Jurassic Park movies, will even be on hand for a special opening reception on April 22.

    Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation, says the exhibit is designed with the whole family in mind. "We are thrilled to host the global premiere of Dinosaurs Around the World and look forward to sharing this interactive and scientific exhibit with our visitors. Our summer exhibits are highly anticipated by the community because they are specifically designed to appeal to the entire family." Elsewhere on the Foundation's website is the acknowledgement that "[a]lthough the Center exists principally to house the presidential archives, 90 percent of visitors come to view the exhibits in the museum."
    While the connection between former presidents and dinosaurs may not be readily apparent, the Clinton Foundation website explains:
The exhibit also features an area that chronicles the accomplishments of four U.S. Presidents who worked to preserve the fossil-rich areas in North America where dinosaurs once roamed. Exhibit artifacts include items from the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman. This display includes a dinosaur skull replica on loan from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an area that President Clinton designated as a national monument in 1996.
     The exhibit is produced by Imagine Exhibitions, which specializes in museum-quality exhibitions with interactive experiences for visitors. Their offerings include a new Hunger Games exhibit, a "research and study center" called Leonardo Da Vinci's Workshop, and a offering called Mob Attraction that "takes guest on a fun, exciting, interactive journey through the world of organized crime."
    Other recent temporary exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Center included "Pigskin in Peanuts" and "Heartbreak in Peanuts", which both commemorated the 65th anniversary of the classic Charles Schulz comic strip. The Clinton Foundation has not yet indicated what will take the place of Dinosaurs Around the World when the exhibit closes in October.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

27.49 Percent of Everyone's Tax Bill Is Spent on Health Care

    Every year since 2011, the White House has used tax time to post a "Federal Taxpayer Receipt" showing taxpayers how their federal tax dollars are being spent. President Obama introduced the concept in his 2011 State of the Union address, and Wednesday the White House posted the fifth installment so taxpayers can see how "tax dollars are being spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, and health care."
    While users can punch in their own tax liability and see dollar amounts assigned to each category, the figures are based on percentages from the prior fiscal year budget. Comparing those percentages from year to year, taxpayers can see that from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of their taxes going towards federal healthcare expenses has jumped 22 percent.
    In 2010, the year the Obamacare passed and was signed into law, the healthcare percentage was 24.10. The following year, 2011, it dropped to 23.7 percent, and in 2012 dropped still further to 22.45 percent. After this, however, the trend sharply reversed. In 2013 the healthcare share jumped to 25.19 percent, and the latest numbers posted this week for 2014 show the highest proportion yet at 27.49 percent, a full 22 percent increase over 2012. This means that for every dollar a taxpayer pays in 2014, an additional nickel is going to pay for healthcare that had been spent elsewhere in 2012. Presently, over 27 cents on every dollar is spent by the federal government on healthcare, primarily Medicaid and Medicare.
     One area impacted is national defense. For the five years of the National Taxpayer Receipt, the share for national defense was highest in 2010 at 26.3 percent. By 2014, this figure had fallen to 23.91 percent, a decrease of nine percent. Other budget areas have changed to varying degrees, such as veterans benefits which increased from 4.1 percent in 2010  to 5.93 percent in 2014, a 45 percent increase.
    Although the White House characterizes the Federal Taxpayer Receipts as a promise kept by President Obama to let taxpayers easily know where their tax dollars are going, the administration also used the opportunity to take a dig at Republicans, providing a link to "See how two starkly different tax plans would impact you" where viewers can read about the president's "tax cuts for the middle class" and the Republicans' "giveaways for the wealthy few." In the end, the White House doesn't just want taxpayers to know where their money is going, but where everyone else's is going, too.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

White House: Motherhood Is a 'Wage Penalty'

    In recognition of Equal Pay Day Tuesday, Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote an entry on the White House blog entitled Five Facts About the Gender Pay Gap. While touching on a number of factors influencing the "gender pay gap", Stevenson cites "motherhood" as one such factor.
    However, rather than present it as a natural choice women make, along with their mates, to enhance their lives and in turn benefit society, "motherhood" is said to be "associated with a wage penalty and lower future career earnings." The article goes on to tout the career-earnings benefits that accrue from delaying childbirth and asserts that women who might otherwise leave the workforce could be persuaded to stay with better paid family and sick leave policies and "therefore bolster their lifelong earnings."
    The full write up on the impact of motherhood on the "gender pay gap" reads as follows:
4. Motherhood is associated with a wage penalty and lower future career earnings. One reason the gender wage gap has narrowed faster among younger women is that between 1980 and 2013, the median age of first birth rose from 22.6 to 26.0. Because motherhood is associated with a wage penalty and lower wage gains later in a woman’s career these delays in childbirth have helped narrow the pay gap. Research has shown that delaying child birth for one year can increase a woman’s total career earnings and experience by 9 percent. But research shows that a lack of paid leave is one reason mothers with infants leave the labor force and therefore earn less later in life. So policies providing paid sick and family leave encourage women to participate in the labor force and therefore bolster their lifelong earnings.
    Throughout the article, Stevenson seems reluctant to acknowledge that other legitimate differences in choices women make versus men can also contribute to a pay gap. She notes that "women are still more likely to work in lower-paying occupations and industries," but says it's important to find out "what we can do to make it easier for women to succeed in high paying occupations." Stevenson's explanation seems to suggest that if men behaved differently, women might be better represented in some traditionally male-dominated fields:
For instance, from college, women are under-represented in STEM fields, receiving only 35 percent in STEM bachelor degrees. However, even among women who begin a science-related career, more than half leave by mid-career, double the rate of men. Forty percent of those who leave cite a “macho” culture as the primary reason.
    Interestingly, as pointed out Tuesday by Mary Katharine Ham at Hot Air, Betsey Stevenson acknowledged, on Equal Pay Day 2014, the impact factors other than outright discrimination can have on the pay gap [emphasis added]:
Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, acknowledged to reporters that the 77-cent figure did not reflect equal pay for equal work. “Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the annual earnings of full-time, full-year men,” she said. “There are a lot of things that go into that 77-cents figure, there are a lot of things that contribute and no one’s trying to say that it’s all about discrimination, but I don’t think there’s a better figure.”
    Despite this 2014 admission, Stevenson, throughout her 2015 article, continually comes back to the "unexplained" differences in this "stubborn and troubling... large gender pay gap," at one point even suggesting that "even though employers are prohibited from discriminating, in cultures of pay secrecy, it is more difficult to enforce non-discrimination requirements." While grudgingly acknowledging that "women are more likely to take time out of the labor force and work fewer hours", the White House's message is clear: even though "American women have made tremendous strides", the work will not be over until the gap is gone.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Clinton Campaign's Highest Suggested Donation Is $2,700 in English, but Only $250 in Spanish [Updated]

    The brand new 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton will "[embrace] small donors in early fundraising," according to a Monday Politico story. The second-time presidential candidate wants to "make even small-dollar donors feel like they are part of the inner circle." Based on the campaign's website, however, expectations for those "small-dollar donors" who speak Spanish are considerably lower than those for their English-speaking counterparts.
    The main donation page for the site includes preset amount buttons for $5, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and the maximum for the primary election cycle, $2,700. However, the preset amounts for the Spanish language version of the donation page are significantly less: $3, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $250. Both pages includes an "other" button where donors can fill in a different amount. Here are screenshots of the two different versions of the donation page:

    According to the Politico story, "the campaign isn’t asking for big checks... The focus for now, donors say, is to bring in $2,700 checks from individuals, or the maximum contribution for a primary." Based on the two-tier system above, Mrs. Clinton's campaign appears to expect most of those maximum contributions will come from English-speaking donors.
    The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request from comment.

UPDATE: Since this article ran, the Clinton campaign changed the Spanish language donations page to match the English language page. As of now, the latest Google cached version of the page still shows the original lower amounts.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

John Kerry Recognizes Islamic Holidays, Largely Silent on Christian and Jewish Occasions

    Secretary of State John Kerry has often spoken to the Arab world during his tenure, particularly during the past year as negotiations with Iran have intensified and conflict with the Islamic State has escalated. But what Kerry has not said during the past twelve months is also significant. The secretary's official remarks and statements noting special dates on Islamic and Arab calendars stand in sharp contrast to his relative silence on Christian and Jewish occasions.
    Last June, less than a month from the initial July 20 deadline for the nuclear talks with Iran, Kerry issued a statement marking the beginning of Ramadan. Kerry said that it was a "time for peaceful reflection and prayer, a time for acts of compassion and charity -- universal values and aspiration ingrained in every human heart." In October, again with a rescheduled talks deadline approaching, Kerry addressed a reception celebrating Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage. He spoke extensively of the meaning of that day and how "[t]here’s nothing Islamic about what ISIL/Daesh stands for", pointing out in contrast that Eid is "a moment when Ibrahim is celebrated for not slaying – for being willing to slay his son in order to provide for people and to prove something." Finally, with yet another talks deadline bearing down in March, Kerry took the time to directly address the Iranian people in recognition of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
    In contrast, Kerry made no remarks regarding either of the recent Easter or Passover celebrations. In addition, Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, passed unremarked last October, and unlike the Iranian New Year, Kerry issued no statement recognizing the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah in September. (Kerry mentioned in passing at the Eid al-Adha reception that "the Jewish religion just went through its holiest moment of the year with Yom Kippur, which is also a moment of huge introspection and re-evaluation," but that's as far as he went.)
    Kerry did attend a "Holiday Reception" in December at the State Department, but his recognition of those holidays consisted of simply saying, "Happy Hanukkah, second day of Hanukkah. Merry Christmas." His remarks did not include any words on the meanings of the celebrations, unlike his remarks on Ramadan and Eid. The most recent Jewish or Christian religious occasion marked at length by Kerry was Passover in April 2014, although he did make remarks for Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2015.
    In addition to the overlooked religious holidays, Kerry even passed over the celebration of Israel's independence day last May. This apparent snub is particularly curious since the secretary issued statements commemorating the independence or "national" days of nearly 170 countries in the past twelve months, including marking China's 65th year as the communist Peoples Republic of China.
    When asked to comment on the apparent disparities, a senior state department official issued the following statement:
The State Department and White House work together to address national days and religious holidays to share the sentiments and best wishes of the American people. 
The White House makes statements for major holidays in the U.S. – as it did for the recent Easter and Passover holidays. 
Often, Secretary Kerry will also offer remarks or attend events to mark such occasions, as he did this year when celebrating Christmas and Chanukah with the Washington diplomatic corps, the families of overseas Department employees serving at difficult posts, and the State Department press corps, and like he did last year when he attended a Seder at the home of Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.
    While it is true that the White House issued statements regarding Easter and Passover, the White House also issued statements for Ramadan, Eid al-Adha and Nowruz, duplicating the efforts of the State Department. Similarly, while Kerry also released remarks on the occasion of the Lunar New Year and the Hindu celebration of Diwali, the White House covered those events also. The White House also noted Israel's independence day that was overlooked by the State Department.
    Whether by oversight or design, the apparent lack of attentiveness to religious occasions celebrated by many in this country and many in Israel, one of the Unites States' closest allies, seems indefensible. While the State Department must show an understanding of and appreciation for cultures and religions outside this country's traditional circles, adherents to traditional ones increasingly appear to be taken for granted at best, snubbed at worst.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

Clintons' New Year's Vacation in Dominican Republic Costs Taxpayers $104K

    President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are no longer "broke" if their choice of holiday destinations is any indication. A short article at DominicanToday.com colorfully reports that the famous couple was in the Dominican Republic to "hobnob with tycoons at Dominican resorts" around the turn of the year. And while the Clintons are responsible for their own expenses, the US taxpayer picks up the tab for Secret Service protection, and the hotel bill alone for this trip totaled at least $104,093. Below is a composite of screenshots from the details for the contract:

    The contract for the hotel appears to cover about a week. The effective date of the contract is listed as December 29, 2014 and the completion date is January 5, 2015. It is unclear how many rooms were required or even how many hotels may have been used; the contract simply says "Miscellaneous Foreign Awardees" rather than specific hotels.
    The report on the Clintons' trip by Dominican Today says that in addition to their stay at the Punta Cana resort, they also "went to the even more exclusive resort of Casa de Campo". However, it is not clear if the Clintons lodged at Casa de Campo or just visited during the day.
    At least one Twitter user tweeted a photo purporting to show President Clinton on the golf course at Punta Cana, and an Instagram user uploaded this photo with Hillary Clinton, also at the Punta Cana resort:

    Another Instagram user posted this casual photo with Bill Clinton at the Casa de Campo resort:

    Also at the Casa de Campo resort, the Clintons met brothers Pepe [José] and Alfy [Alfonso] Fanjul, owners of the Florida Crystals Corporation, a sugar company based in Florida, again according to Dominican Today. The same article cites the Dominican-based website listin.com.do as saying that "in addition to personal matters, the sugar tycoons discuss the possibility of Hillary Clinton’s run for the White [House] on the Democratic ballot in the US elections in Nov., 2016."
    Yet another Dominican-based website (deultimominuto.com.do) reported that businessman Rolando Bunster joined the Fanjuls and the Clintons for lunch and included this photo of the four men on the golf course:

    Alonso Fanjul and Rolando Bunster both participated in the Clinton Foundation’s Future of the Americas conference in New York in December.
    The daily newspaper of the Casa del Campo resort also reported on the Clintons' visit:
Arriving in Casa de Campo a few days after New Year’s Eve, former president of the United States, Bill Clinton and his wife, Hilary Clinton were spotted eating out at Limoncello in the Marina Casa de Campo, where they were joined by the Fanjul and the Gonzalez-Bunster families. And while yes the Casa de Campo community is in general pretty laid back about celebrity spotting, seeing Mr Bill Clinton casually having dinner out in the open, in the middle of the Plaza Portofino of the Marina Casa de Campo – now that did cause some excitement – the result being that he kindly agreed to pose for few photos. 
After that first night in the Marina Casa de Campo, former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, spent the remainder of his time in Casa de Campo enjoying private dinners with friends at their Casa de Campo villas, and of course playing a few rounds of golf.
    The Casa del Campo newspaper article was accompanied by this photo of President Clinton with an unidentified couple:

    No photos of the Clintons together on their Dominican vacation could be located. While the article reported that the president played several rounds of golf at the resort and joined friends for dinner at their resort villas, no details were given as to the activities of Mrs. Clinton during that time.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.