Former Clinton administration HHS Secretary Donna Shalala filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 5 to run for Congress in the 27th congressional district in Florida. Shalala was also the chief executive of the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
Shalala, 77, is a longtime member of the internationalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and was listed as a director of the CFR in 1992-1993. That organization has exerted influence on U.S. foreign policy since its establishment in 1921, and its members have included a majority of our secretaries of state since World War II, all of whom have helped promote an aggressively interventionist U.S. foreign policy. Former President Bill Clinton is a CFR member.
The House seat sought by Shalala is currently held by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the first Cuban American elected to Congress, who will retire after 28 years in the House. Ros-Lehtinen scored 50 percent on the most recent “Freedom Index” compiled by The New American.
The Washington Post reported that Hillary Clinton carried Florida’s 27th District over Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in the 2016 presidential election. The district includes coastal Miami-Dade County, most of Miami Beach, and downtown Miami.
That area became home to many exiles who came from Cuba in two large waves. The first wave was made up of mostly middle-class Cubans who fled the island after the communist takeover by Fidel Castro in 1959. Having experienced the brutalities of life under Communism, this group was politically conservative and gravitated to the Republican Party. The second group consisted of those peoples who emigrated from Cuba during and after the Mariel boat lift of 1980, which was permitted by Castro and seen by many as a way for the dictator to rid his country of a criminal element. This later wave of émigrés did not embrace the strong anti-communist views of the earlier Cubans who came for political asylum and the political make-up of the Cuban community became less reliably Republican.
Shalala spent much of her career in academia, serving in professorships at Baruch College and Teachers College, Columbia University (both in New York) during the 1970s. On October 8, 1980, she became the president of Hunter College, serving in that position until 1988. Hunter College, coincidentally, is diagonally across Manhattan’s Park Avenue from the Harold Pratt House, which serves as the headquarters building of the CFR.
Shalala then served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1988-1993). Under her chancellorship, and with her support, the university adopted a restrictive “speech code” subjecting students to disciplinary action for communications that were perceived as “hate speech.”
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Shalala as Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1993. She served in that position for all eight years of the Clinton administration, becoming the nation’s longest-serving HHS secretary. A biographical summary of Shalala’s tenure as HHS secretary and UW-Madison chancellor compiled by the Washington Post observed:
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala was one of the most controversial Clinton Cabinet nominees — one who had been branded by critics as being too liberal and politically correct. While she was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the school adopted a speech code banning hate speech, and she introduced a plan to more than double the number of new minority undergraduates. A federal judge ruled the speech code unconstitutional; critics said the minority recruitment plan could lead to admission decisions based on race. During her tenure at HHS, Shalala has fought for more funding for AIDS research and the National Institutes of Health and for welfare reform.
Shalala served as president of the University of Miami from 2001 through 2015. Following her tenure there, she was named in 2015 as chief executive officer of the Clinton Foundation. The New York Times reported that Chelsea Clinton helped persuade Shalala to leave the Miami position and move to New York to head the foundation.
In 1985, Shalala became a founding member of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that seeks to elect pro-abortion Democratic women to office. Naturally, EMILY’s List has endorsed her in her run for Congress.
With Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the people of the 27th congressional district in Florida have had a middle-of-the-road Republican representing them in Congress for the past 28 years. Everything in Shalala’s background indicates that she would be a very liberal Democrat. Furthermore, Shalala will have some big political guns and large donors behind her, which gives her many advantages in waging a political campaign.