Secret Empires – How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends

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#1 New York Times Bestseller!

Peter Schweizer has been fighting corruption—and winning—for years. In Throw Them All Out, he exposed insider trading by members of Congress, leading to the passage of the STOCK Act. In Extortion, Schweizer uncovered how politicians use mafia-like tactics to enrich themselves to the utmost. And in Clinton Cash, he revealed the Clintons’ massive money machine and sparked an FBI investigation.

Now he explains how a new corruption has taken hold, involving larger sums of money than ever before. Stuffing tens of thousands of dollars into a freezer has morphed into multi-billion dollar equity deals done in the dark corners of the world.

An American bank opening in China would be prohibited by U.S. law from hiring a slew of family members of top Chinese politicians. However, a Chinese bank opening in America can hire anyone it wants. It can even invite the friends and families of American politicians to invest in can’t-lose deals.

President Donald Trump’s children have made front pages across the world for their dicey transactions. However, the media has barely looked into questionable deals made by those close to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, and lesser-known politicians who have been in the game much longer.

In many parts of the world, the children of powerful political figures go into business and profit handsomely, not necessarily because they are good at it, but because people want to curry favor with their influential parents. This is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. But for relatives of some prominent political families, we may already be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

Deeply researched and packed with shocking revelations, Secret Empires identifies public servants who cannot be trusted and provides a path toward a more accountable government.

Hardback, 336 pages.

About the Author

Peter Schweizer is the author of, among other books, Clinton Cash, Extortion, Throw Them All Out, and Architects of Ruin. He has been featured throughout the media, including on “60 Minutes” and in The New York Times. He is the cofounder and president of the Government Accountability Institute, a team of investigative researchers and journalists committed to exposing crony capitalism, misuse of taxpayer monies, and other governmental corruption or malfeasance. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He is online at and on Facebook.

In the Media

“It Begins: ‘Secret Empires’ Book Set to Rock Official Washington”

By Rebecca Mansour, Jan. 29, 2018, Breitbart

The author who wrote Clinton Cash and sparked an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation is preparing to launch his highly anticipated investigative follow-up—a book that appears to be every bit as explosive as his last.

On Monday, publishing giant HarperCollins released the book cover of Government Accountability Institute President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer’s forthcoming book, Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends. While little is known about the book’s contents, five images on the book’s cover suggest that Schweizer’s next targets may include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), former Vice President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

According to the publisher, Secret Empires will expose vast corruption by top Washington figures who leverage their political power to enrich their family members and friends, often by helping grease deals with foreign entities.

The author of four major New York Times bestsellers, Schweizer has garnered praise from conservatives and progressives alike for his reputation as a nonpartisan deep-dive investigative journalist. Newsweek dubbed him “the wonk who slays Washington.” Indeed, among Washington insiders, the launch of a Schweizer book is regarded as somewhat of an event—one that has resulted in ethics probes, the passage of major anti-corruption legislation, members of Congress stepping down, and, in the case of the Clintons, an FBI investigation.

In 2012, 60 Minutes based a feature report on Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out that exposed congressional insider trading by members of Congress. The 60 Minutes report won the Joan Shorenstein Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based journalism. After Schweizer’s revelations, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill called the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) to ban lawmakers from using insider knowledge to make personal stock trades. As left-leaning Slate noted, Schweizer wrote “the book that started the STOCK Act stampede.” One of the main targets of the book, the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Spencer Bachus (R-AL), announced he would not seek reelection following the book’s revelations.

In 2013, Schweizer released Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets and sparked the resignation of Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ). Schweizer revealed that Andrews used $16,575 from his leadership PAC to jet he and his family to a lavish resort in Edinburgh, Scotland. CBS’s 60 Minutes partnered with Schweizer again to report Extortion’s findings. Following Rep. Andrews’s resignation, Schweizer said: “The Government Accountability Institute (GAI) is a nonpartisan investigative research team committed to exposing cronyism and misuse of taxpayer money. For those discouraged by the cronyism corrupting Washington, the Andrews resignation demonstrates that we can hold them accountable. For those in power who are engaging in self-enrichment, we have two words: watch out.”

Then in 2015, Schweizer sent shockwaves through Washington, DC, with the release of Clinton Cash. The book revealed that Hillary Clinton’s State Department, along with eight other agencies, approved the transfer of 20 percent of U.S. uranium and that nine foreign investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. The New York Times ran a 4,000-word front-page story based on the book and confirmed its findings, as did the Washington Post and several others. Hillary Clinton’s campaign kicked into overdrive trying to refute the book’s myriad revelations. Surprisingly, some of Schweizer’s strongest defenders came from the political left. Progressive columnist Eleanor Clift hailed Schweizer “an equal-opportunity investigator, snaring Republicans as well as Democrats.” And Columbia University Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs said Clinton Cash was “compelling reading on how Bill and Hillary have mixed personal wealthy, power, and influence peddling.”

A feature-length documentary film based on the book debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and also received wide praise. MSNBC said the film was “devastating” and that it “powerfully connects the dots.”

Later, in November 2016, the New York Times reported that an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation “was based mostly on information that had surfaced in news stories and the book Clinton Cash, according to several law enforcement officials briefed on the case.”

Will Secret Empires result in a similar political firestorm? For now, Schweizer isn’t saying.

“My publisher has me under a strict embargo not to reveal any contents from the book,” Schweizer told Breitbart News.


Peter Schweizer Talks About His New Book “Secret Empires”

Chicago’s Morning News, April 4, 2018:

Peter Schweizer is the author of the bestselling Clinton Cash, a book that ultimately fueled an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Peter joined Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson to talk about his new book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which takes aim at the families of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Joe Biden:

DAN: Let’s get right to it because we’ve got a guy whose book in 2016 really changed the nature of the 2016 presidential election. Of course, the New York Times bestseller Clinton Cash is the book I’m referring to. We’re still litigating and talking about the cases, the business dealings that Peter Schweizer documented in Clinton Cash. I think, for example, Uranium One. Still asking questions … the American people still asking questions about whether federal law enforcement will start getting answers to some of the questions that were raised in Peter Schweizer’s book. He’s got a new book out that’s equally compelling, and it’s bipartisan in nature, the political ruling class. It’s called Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, and there are some particularly interesting stories of business dealings from some household names in politics. You go in with a certain amount of cash, and you come out of office with exponentially more, or even you continue to accrue it while in office, and it goes largely unreported. But not by Peter Schweizer. Also, he’s got a very interesting case study that’s particularly relevant to Illinois, and we’ll start there. Peter Peter Schweizer, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it .

PETER: Hey, it’s great to be back on with you. Thanks for having me.

DAN: Really fascinated by your book. This is some really good reporting, investigating, and then reporting and translating it into a format that’s very accessible. I want to start with a “real estate mogul goes to Washington”, and we’re not talking about Trump. We’re talking about Penny Pritzker. And as you undoubtedly know, Peter, we’ve got a other heir to the Hyatt fortune running for office in Illinois named J.B. Pritzker. And so Penny’s experience as Secretary of Commerce and her relationship with Barack Obama couldn’t be more timely for our gubernatorial election this year. But help us distill how Penny Pritzker advanced her family’s financial interests and her financial interests throughout the rise of Barack Obama, and then including when she was Secretary of Commerce.

PETER: Well, I tell you it’s a massive confluence of interests, and the sort of things that I think you know if Trump were to engage in, there would be massive outrage. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t watch what Trump’s doing, but in the case of Pritzker it was so overt and obvious. I’ll just take a very simple one. She started a real estate investment firm PSP while she was in Washington, D.C., in the Obama administration. And one of their key business fixtures was leasing office properties to the federal government, including the Commerce Department when she was Commerce Secretary. So that’s a huge conflict of interest. Some of the real estate investments buildings that she purchased while she was Secretary of Commerce were then leased by entities like the National League of Cities, National League of Counties who are actively lobbying the Commerce Department, and who are also receiving grants from the Commerce Department. So you know this is Ethics 101, and you know you have these tentacles of financial ties and government power that overlapped that really went largely undetected during her during her tenure as Commerce Secretary.

DAN: The other thing about this, too, is this whole big show that politicians, particularly those that come to the table with a lot of wealth like Penny Pritzker did, make of divesting themselves from their financial interests. You report that really it was a little bit of, kind of, “press release politics”. It was a show of divesting from some companies that were not as material to her financial interests as the big ones.

PETER: That’s exactly right. I mean then there were just really simple, you know, breaches of what I would regard as the ethical code. I mean, for example, one of the things that was claimed in her ethics filings was that she was not going to be involved at all with her business. She was going to have an arm’s length relationship and not manage it. And yet there are accounts of her as Commerce Secretary going in having random bag lunches at the companies that she was supposed to be having nothing to do with. And, you know, conducting meetings and seminars ant things actually at those companies, you know. Another overt thing that was very troubling while she was Commerce Secretary, her company PSP actually gets the head of the real estate arm of the federal government’s General Services Administration to quit his job to come work for her. Again, raising all kinds of questions. So you know this is this is a prominent issue certainly in the era of Trump, but it didn’t start with Trump. And the bottom line is we have to sort of get rid of the notion that people that are very wealthy are not going to be interested in cutting corners while they are in office …

DAN: Absolutely.

PETER: … It’s ultimately not an issue of money. They don’t do it because the money. They do because they feel entitled. They do it because they think they can get away with it, and they do it because they think the rules shouldn’t apply to them. Just because somebody has money doesn’t mean that they’re not going to do things to cut corners and violate ethics rules.

DAN: Such a great point. It’s such a great point.

AMY: And J.B. Pritzker was jealous at his sister Penny rose to the level of, you know, Secretary of Commerce, but what other friends did President Barack Obama help out?

DAN: Well, that’s a great question. I mean there’s a friend that a lot of people in the country don’t know. He’s a little bit better known in Chicago named Marty Nesbitt. And so when, you know, when Barack Obama is re-elected in 2012, Marty Nesbitt starts an investment fund called Vistria. And it says in the corporate documents the purpose of Vistria is to invest in, “highly regulated industries.” Now, you know, that’s a great business model if you happen to be best friends with the regulator-in-chief, which would be the President of the United States. And what you find with Vistria, you find it with other entities as well with people that are close to Barack Obama, that they engage in what I call “smash and grab.” Barack Obama would go in and smash the company. Declare that for one reason or another he didn’t think it’s a good company that’s serving customers well. Smash it with regulation. That would drive down the valuation of that company to pennies on the dollar. And then a friend would swoop in and buy it on the cheap, only to then have the regulatory weight lifted. In the case of Marty Nesbitt and Vistria, the classic example here is the University of Phoenix, which is you know for-profit college. The Obama administration said we don’t like this school. So we’re going to not allow the Pentagon to use GI bill money to let soldiers attend that school. You can imagine what happened to the stock price. It went from something like a $100 a share down to about $3 a share. At which point Marty Nesbitt swooped in and bought it bought it for pennies on the dollar. Only after that the Obama administration say, you know what, we think that we will allow GI dollars to flow back to that school

AMY: That’s criminal.

PETER: You see that pattern over and over again.

DAN: And even when they don’t come in and swoop in to buy it outright, they come in as consultants to, you know, to help fix it to get regulatory relief from .. I mean so it’s the same … That trick is as old as Chicago lobbyists. But I mean it’s great to document specific examples of this. I also want to get to this story. Tell us the story of Scranton Joe. His son Hunter Biden and John Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz, get together and partner with a Ukrainian natural gas company.

PETER: This is one of the reasons I call the book Secret Empires is that a guy like Joe Biden will say, well you know, my family doesn’t have any money. Look at my financial disclosure. But what’s done is the deals are funneled through your adult kids, and you don’t have to disclose the assets and income of your adult kids. So in the case of Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and Chris Heinz, and a guy named Devon Archer, who’s a longtime Kerry aide, they’re doing deals with people from Ukraine to China. In the case of Ukraine, there’s a oligarch named Igor Kolomoisky, who is a notorious oligrach. Now, if you know anything about Ukraine, oligarchs can be bad enough, but if you are the most notorious of the oligarchs, that’s saying something and that’s who Igor Kolomoisky is. This guy puts Hunter Biden on the payroll of his energy company to help him on compliance matters, whatever that means, and we, of course, don’t know how much he made. But you can imagine it was a pretty penny for, you know, Hunter Biden to take a job like this. But here’s where it gets interesting. Kholamosky, among owning an energy company, also owns a bank Joe Biden, Hunter’s father, the vice president of the United States is responsible for the flow of U.S. aid dollars to the Ukraine. That aid is funneled through PrivatBank, which is owned by Kolomoisky, who again is paying Hunter Biden large sums of money. U.S. taxpayer dollars disappear in Kolomoisky’s bank. More than a billion dollars, and a lot of people in the Ukraine believe that Kolomoisky himself siphoned that money off. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. When Donald Trump was inaugurated in January of 2017, in the last days of the Obama administration, where was Joe Biden? He wasn’t in Washington D.C. He wasn’t in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was in the Ukraine, and he was working to eliminate an investigation of Kolomoisky, who of course is an oligarch that was paying his son.

DAN: Unbelievable.

PETER: It’s dirty, dirty stuff.

DAN: So the vice president’s son, at the time he’s vice president, the Secretary of State’s son, at least in part at the time that he was Secretary of State, his stepson, John Kerry’s. And they’re in bed with this corrupt Ukrainian oligarch, and spending sending billions of dollars of American money taxpayer money to cement the relationship. I mean is this is the kind of remarkable stuff in this book, people. You almost think this is like a John le Carré novel. But but it’s not, and it’s well-documented. I want to get to another example here. Let’s go to the Republican side. Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao, of course a cabinet secretary before, a cabinet secretary again, and how their net worth has gone from as little as 3 million dollars 15 years ago to as much as 36 and a half million today. Part of of it, I know, is Elaine Chao comes from wealth, a family shipping company. But connect the dots for us on that explosion in net worth.

PETER: Yeah, I mean China figures large in this book because China has basically embarked on a strategy, and they’ll say this openly, a strategy of seeking favors with American political leaders by doing lucrative deals with their families. And that’s certainly the case with Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell, as you said, married to Elaine Chao, the Transportation Secretary in the Trump administration. Her father launched a shipping business, but the shipping business didn’t really take off until 1993 when then-Senator Mitch McConnell, who had just married Elaine and his father-in-law go to Beijing, China. The trip is not an official government trip. It’s not a Senate delegation. They are there as guests of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation — CSSC — which as the name implies is wholly-owned by the Chinese government. And they basically say to McConnell and Chao, we will set you up in a major way in the shipping business. We will build your ships. We will finance the construction of those ships. We will provide crews for those ships. We will provide contracts for you to ship government-owned companies’ goods around the Pacific. And they say they are in, and of course, the rest is history. They make a fortune. Their relationship is so close between this family and the Chinese government that Elaine Chao’s father and sister joined the board of directors of DSS Holdings which is one of the largest military contractors in Beijing, China. And so they’re getting rich courtesy of the help of the Chinese government. Mitch McConnell’s Senate career, something very interesting happens. He was a very critical voice against China when it came to human rights, military expansion, trade issues. Then when the deal was struck, he started to change. And today he nary has a bad word to say about the Chinese government. And I would argue it’s because he precisely knows that the family’s fortunes are tied up with the good graces of the Chinese government. And that net worth increase you talked about comes almost entirely because James Chao, the father-in-law, a couple of years ago, made a gift of between 5 million and 25 million dollars to Senator Mitch McConnell. So, you know, who wouldn’t wish to have in-laws like that?

DAN: Right. Yeah, and I mean and McConnell’s been very skeptical, openly, of Trump’s, you know, trade policy with respect to China. And the point is even if Mitch McConnell was a free marketeer, it doesn’t matter because of this relationship, and his financial interests, he’s hopelessly conflicted in his pronouncements in this area. I mean, this is the kind of … This is why this is so great. We don’t have time to get to the princelings of Chicago and Mayor Daley, former Mayor Daley’s deals with the Russians and the Chinese, which is why we need to get this book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.This is just great stuff, important stuff. Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, is the author of this book. Peter, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

PETER:I enjoyed it. Thanks a lot.


“The corruption occurring before their very eyes”


April 9, 2018, The Washington Times

The astonishing widespread massive corruption of some of the biggest names in American politics that Peter Schweizer reveals in his new blockbuster expose is shocking, startling, stunning—and sickening.

Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends is an insightful and extraordinarily consequential book that should ignite a national uproar.

Don’t hold your breath. Our national media can be expected to do all in its power to suppress the possibility of any uproar—even when the corruption is this vast. It’s what they’re best at—covering up their own malfeasance and protecting politicians with whose ideology they’ve allied themselves.

One of the biggest scandals in American history was swirling around us. Leading U.S. government figures were embracing corruption. Foreign governments were colluding with American sleazes to hurt our country. Family and friends of these key political figures conspired as middlemen between foreign interests seeking influence and these enormously influential U.S. government officials.

Yet not one of the country’s best-known, most-acclaimed, highest-paid members of the major media noticed the corruption occurring right in front of them or else didn’t consider it important. America’s entire news business—the combined resources of major television and radio networks, major newspapers, magazines and wire services—didn’t see it or didn’t care.

Aided only by his small team of researchers, this independent investigative journalist with a reputation for fair and honest reporting has provided the American people with clear and compelling proof of widespread corruption at the highest levels of our government involving leading Democrats and leading Republicans alike.

It smells. How bad? Take a few good whiffs:

• While Joe Biden and John Kerry were negotiating sensitive diplomatic deals with the Chinese government, on the sidelines stood two new business partners with little expertise in China or even their new field—Vice President Biden’s son and Secretary Kerry’s step-son. The Chinese were delighted with the deals and for the U.S. making no real issue of China’s illegal, brazen creation of a new military base in international waters

Then—talk about coincidence—the Chinese bestowed upon the two sons unprecedented and incredibly lucrative business concessions. These include a couple of multi-billion-dollar equity deals. How many millions went into the pockets of the sons? It’s hidden. And they and their fathers refuse to answer questions about it. Note: U.S. anti-corruption law prohibits American companies from hiring or doing business deals with the children of foreign officials; it does not, however, prohibit foreign entities from doing business with the children of American officials.

• Before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell married Elaine Chao, currently Secretary of Transportation, he was a harsh China critic. He’s softened to the point where nowadays he, like his China-born wife, is more of an apologist. He’s helped China escape human rights abuses trade penalties and attempted to defend it from the consequences of its notorious currency manipulation practices. During this period Sen. McConnell’s net worth has soared, fueled largely by his father-in-law James Chao’s gifting him so many millions.

James Chao’s business is financially entangled with the Chinese government. Mr. McConnell’s father-in-law and sister-in-law, while American citizens, are active board members on a key sector of China’s military-industrial complex. Being in favor with our Chinese adversary built the family fortune; remaining in favor may send it soaring to higher heights; the thought of losing favor could force a choice between what’s best for personal wealth management and what’s best for America.

• Joe Biden and John Kerry funneled a few billion dollars to the corrupt government of Ukraine, including having U.S. taxpayers guarantee $1.8 billion in loans. The money flowed through a bank controlled by a controversial oligarch who had been banned from entering the United States. Joe Biden’s son teamed up with him, the ban was lifted—and, oh, more than $1 billion of the funds for Ukraine simply vanished from the oligarch’s bank.

And there’s so much more. “Secret Empires” has a large cast of shady characters and is packed with outrages that should make any red-blooded American’s blood boil.

Were it not for Peter Schweizer we might never have learned that any of this ever happened. This in itself is a scandal. A competent, conscientious, fair and honest media would have well before now fully informed the American people about each devious corrupt activity each of these very well-known “public servants” is guilty of. So why didn’t we know about any of this? Why didn’t we even have a clue?

The excuse the media will offer up is that they’re snowed under—way too much news to cover, far too few resources to devote to their work, not enough time. Utter nonsense—as evidenced by the fact that it’s only a problem when it involves something they’d prefer we not focus on and never a problem when it’s something they want us to consider big news, even when so often it’s not.

Fred J. Eckert, a former Republican congressman from New York, was U.S. ambassador to Fiji and to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan.


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