- 2005: Bill Clinton paid $800,000 to speak to Latin American audiences by a Colombia-based business investment organization that supports the Colombian trade agreement. On the trip, Clinton praised the Colombian and other trade agreements. He had supported the Colombian agreement since 2000.
- April 2007: Al Gore withdraws from an environmental conference in Miami to avoid appearing with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, widely criticized for human rights and labor abuses. Gore calls Uribe's record "troubling."
- April 2007: The Colombian government hires Glover Park Group, a lobbying firm founded by Clinton administration officials, to help win passage of a free trade agreement with the United States. Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's current communications director, was a principal employee and currently retains an equity stake in the firm.
- May 2007: The Colombian government hires Burson-Marsteller, a public affairs firm headed by Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, to support the free trade agreement.
- May 2007: Obama joins Chris Dodd and six other Senators in expressing "grave concern regarding the infiltration of important Colombian state institutions by terrorists and drug traffickers" to Sec'y of State Rice (via Think on These Things).
- June 2007: Bill Clinton accepts "Colombia is passion" award from Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. "We need to remember that we are friends," said the former president. "We need to remember that we want to share a common future."
- March 31: Penn meets with Colombian government to push trade deal.
- April 2: Colombian President Uribe attacks Barack Obama for opposing the trade deal.
- April 4: Penn's meeting becomes public. The Clinton campaign says Penn's meeting was unrelated to the campaign, but the Colombian government does not corroborate that account.
- April 5: The Colombian government announces it is firing Penn.
- April 6: Penn loses his title with Clinton campaign, though the extent to which his influence will diminish is unclear.
Clinton and Uribe, June 2007
What more is out there? And given the Clintons' deep organizational and personal ties to Colombia, does anybody really believe that mark Penn's 3/31 meeting was entirely apolitical?
Finally, a note to keep this in perspective. As Ben Smith notes, prominent Obama supporters like Tom Daschle are advocates of the Colombian deal, and on balance, Obama -- like Clinton -- seems to be a proponent of more trade, not less -- although he has been steadfast in his support for labor and environmental standards.
The key difference is that Obama himself does not seem to have any personal financial ties to Colombia, certainly none such as the link between Bill Clinton and Alvaro Uribe, and neither do his top campaign aides.