- Assets: $277,805,820 (2013)
- Grants Received: $144,382,361 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $8,865,052 (2013)
Originally based in Little Rock, Arkansas and known as the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation was established by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2001 “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.” Claiming to be politically nonpartisan, the Foundation administers several major programs, of which the best-known is the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
The Clinton Global Initiative
Incorporated in 2005 as an independent nonprofit, CGI aims to persuade wealthy businesspeople to pledge money to Clinton Foundation programs. Former World Wildlife Fund president David Sandalow, who served as a senior environmental official in the Clinton administration, chairs the CGI Working Group. The Working Group’s advisory board is composed of such luminaries as Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke; President Clinton's former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carl Browner; Pew Center on Global Climate Change president Eileen Claussen; Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp; and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, an ethanol advocate who supported California’s failed Proposition 87, which would have imposed new taxes on that state’s oil producers. Other key CGI working groups are headed by senior fellows at the Center for American Progress who previously worked for the Clinton administration: Clinton economic advisor Gene Sperling chairs the CGI Education Working Group; Clinton National Security Council staffer Gayle Smith chairs the CGI Poverty-Alleviation Working Group; and Thomas Kalil, deputy director of Clinton's National Economic Council, chairs the CGI Global Health Working Group.
CGI hosts annual Clinton Global Summits where affluent business moguls who pay $15,000 apiece to attend, pledge money to CGI programs. Among those who attended in 2007 were high-ranking officials of Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Duke Energy, Starbucks, the Carnegie Corporation, and the NoVo Foundation. Also on hand were former Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Evangelical Environmental Network president Jim Ball, actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and media giants Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner. At this 2007 Summit, Bill Clinton advocated a form of Cap-and-Trade that would raise energy prices while purportedly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Some CGI activities, such as this greenhouse-gas initiative, are of a highly political nature. Others, however, are not politicized – particularly those that focus their philanthropy on impoverished peoples in Africa.
At the 2009 Clinton Global Summit, attendees included Barack Obama, Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Wangari Maathai, and actors Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
Additional Programs of the Clinton Foundation
Additional major initiatives of the Clinton Foundation include the following:
A) The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): Established in 2002 as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, this program is dedicated to “expanding access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ... in developing countries.” In its earliest months, BHCCF brokered price cuts by generic drug producers of AIDS drugs, organizing a cooperative that enabled more than 70 poor nations to purchase those medicines at discounted rates. The driving force behind this initiative is Ira C. Magaziner, a longtime Bill Clinton ally who engineered Hillary Clinton’s failed attempt at a healthcare overhaul in the early 1990s.
B) Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI): Created in 2006 “to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change,” CCI is founded on the premise that human industrial activity, by emitting greenhouse gases (GHG), causes global warming. To address this problem, CCI has created such projects as energy retrofits for homes and businesses, low-GHG-emitting outdoor lighting, and improved waste management for American cities. CCI also promotes clean-energy alternatives to fossil fuels, which it says “account for about 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.” Moreover, CCI seeks to curtail “deforestation in tropical countries,” which it calls “a major contributor to climate change.”
C) Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Asserting that “in the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled and are now at epidemic rates,” this initiative supports a Healthy Schools Program that encourages schools to stock their vending machines with non-fattening foods; urges students to “bring in healthy snacks for school parties”; and exhorts parents to “work with your child’s school to organize 'healthy' fundraisers like walk-a-thons.”
D) Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative (CEOI): This Initiative was established in 2002 “to reduce economic inequity and accelerate economic progress in the United States by helping individuals become more financially stable and businesses in underserved communities to grow.” CEOI's Entrepreneurship Program “promotes business-to-business public service, helping entrepreneurs reach higher levels of success”; the Financial Mainstream Program “helps people access lower-cost, safer financial services, and the support they need to develop and sustain good financial habits.”
E) Clinton Development Initiative (CDI): At the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, Scottish philanthropist Tom Hunter, the wealthiest man in Scotland, committed “to invest $100 million over ten years to encourage sustainable economic growth in the developing world” – principally Africa. Today, CDI “works to increase farmers’ access to fertilizer, seeds, irrigation, and other farming inputs, and to identify and develop new markets for agricultural outputs.”
Donation to ACORN
In 2006, the Clinton Foundation gave $250,000 to the famously corrupt, pro-socialist, community organization ACORN.
Collecting Donations to Fund the Clinton Presidential Library
The Clinton Foundation has collected many millions of dollars in donations to fund the Clinton Presidential Library. At least 57 separate donors gave $1 million or more. Among these were Hollywood director-producer Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw; movie producer Stephen Bing; insurance magnate Peter Lewis; and the Soros Foundation, which is the European arm of George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Another notable donor was Denise Rich -- ex-wife of Marc Rich, a billionaire fugitive who had fled to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for 51 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion, and illegal oil transactions with Iran; Mrs. Rich gave the foundation $450,000.
Financial Mismanagement and Lucrative Sponsorships
In 2007-2008, the Foundation found itself competing against Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for donors amid an economic recession. As a result, the Foundation ran a $40 million deficit during those two years. An August 2013 New York Times story provided numerous details about the Foundation's financial dealings and mismanagement:
It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in. And concern was rising inside and outside the organization about Douglas J. Band, a onetime personal assistant to Mr. Clinton who had started a lucrative corporate consulting firm — which Mr. Clinton joined as a paid adviser — while overseeing the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation’s glitzy annual gathering ... that draws hundreds of business leaders and heads of state to New York City where attendees are pushed to make specific philanthropic commitments. Today, big-name companies vie to buy sponsorships at prices of $250,000 and up, money that has helped subsidize the foundation’s annual operating costs.
In 2012 the Clinton Foundation and two subsidiaries had revenues of more than $214 million, but still ran a deficit of more than $8 million.
In an effort to prevent foreign governments, organizations, and individuals from influencing the policy decisions of American national leaders, campaign-finance laws prohibit U.S. political candidates from accepting money from such sources. But as the Washington Post noted in February 2015, the Clinton Foundation “has given donors a way [i.e., an avenue by which] to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political [donation] limits.” Most notably, as of February 2015, foreign sources accounted for about one third of all donors who had given the Clinton Foundation more than $1 million, and over half of those who had contributed more than $5 million to the Foundation. For example:
* In 2002 the government of Brunei gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, to help finance the construction of the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas.
* As of December 2008, the Clinton Foundation had received between $1 million and $5 million from Issam Fares, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who once served as deputy prime minister of Lebanon. In the United States, Fares is best known as the CEO of the Wedge Foundation, a Houston-based investment firm. But in his native Lebanon, he is better known as an outspoken supporter of Hezbollah and an apologist for the Syrian dictatorship’s previous military occupation of his country:
- In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Fares insisted that “it is a mistake to make a comparison between the al-Qaeda network” and Hezbollah. The latter was actually a “resistance party fighting the Israeli occupation,” Fares said, explaining that “Hezbollah did not carry out any resistance operation against American interests in Lebanon or abroad and did not target civilians in its resistance activities as happened on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center.”
- During a September 2004 address to the United Nations, Fares again described Hezbollah in positive terms as a “national resistance movement” that “has played an important role in forcing Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon.” In the same speech, Fares condemned “Israeli forces” for their presence on the Lebanon’s border with the Golan Heights, while excusing Syria’s far more brutal occupation of Lebanon. The Syrian forces in Lebanon, he said, “are on our territory upon the request of the Lebanese government.”
* The United Arab Emirates has been another rich source of revenue for the Clinton Foundation:
- As of December 2008, the Clinton Foundation had received between $1 million and $5 million from the Dubai Foundation (DF), which was headed by Dubai’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Previously, DF had donated at least 1 million United Arab Emirate (UAE) dirhams (approximately $270,000 U.S.) to “the families of the Palestinian martyrs”—that is, Palestinian terrorists killed in action. And in November of 2006, the sheikh sponsored a concert by Lebanese songstress Julia Bourtos in honor of “Lebanese Martyrs” in Hezbollah.
- Also as of December 2008, the Clinton Foundation had received between $1 million and $5 million from the royal family of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who served as president of the United Arab Emirates from 1971-2004. In 1999, this same family established the (now-defunct) Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, which became a notorious platform for anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and supporters of terrorism.
* Another of the Clinton Foundation’s leading donors is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which, as of 2008, had contributed between $10 million and $25 million to the Foundation.
- In addition to direct contributions from the Saudi government, the Clinton Foundation had also received between $1 million and $5 million from the pro-Saudi advocacy group, Friends of Saudi Arabia (FSA). Launched in 2005 and supported by the Saudi royal family, this group acts as a kind of public-relations agency, protesting what it views as the U.S. media's unfair portrayal of the Saudi nation. Prior the release of the 2007 film The Kingdom, for example, FSA executive director Michael Saba wrote a letter to the chairman of Universal Studios expressing his concern “that the movie might present negative stereotypes about the people of Saudi Arabia.” Notably, Saba himself is an anti-Israel zealot and conspiracy theorist. His 1984 book, The Armageddon Network, alleges widespread Israeli espionage at the highest levels of the U.S. government, complete with a Justice Department cover-up. In 2004 he claimed—on the basis of no evidence whatsoever—that Israeli interrogators had played a role in the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003.
* In 2014 the government of Germany—as a first-time donor—gave the Clinton Foundation between $100,000 and $250,000.
* In 2014 the government of the United Arab Emirates—also a first-time donor—gave the Foundation between $1 million and $5 million.
* In 2013-14 the government of Australia gave the Foundation several million dollars.
* In 2014 a Qatari government committee gave the Foundation between $250,000 and $500,000. Previously, Qatar’s government had donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Foundation.
While all of these donations from foreign sources raise a host of ethical red flags, contributions that were made during Hillary Clinton's tenure (2009-13) as Secretary of State (SOS) may be even more significant, given the possibility that such funds could be used to buy immediate political influence. During that period, the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in donations from seven foreign governments: Australia, Norway, the Dominican Republic, Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar (the latter of which spent more than $5.3 million on registered lobbyists while Clinton was SOS).
The government of Saudi Arabia suspended its contributions to the Foundation during Mrs. Clinton's years as SOS, and then resumed its giving after she stepped down in 2013.
The Foundation Refuses to Reveal Information About Its Lucrative Sale of Stock in a Firm with Ties to the Chinese Government
In January 2009, the Washington Times reported that a secret party had paid an excessive sum for stock donated to the Clinton Foundation:
“Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation, despite identifying more than 200,000 of its donors in recent weeks, will not say who paid it windfall prices for stock in a struggling Internet firm with links to the Chinese government.... Mrs. Clinton’s office and the foundation have declined to answer questions about a lucrative 2006 stock transaction, details of which were reported by The Washington Times in March 2008.
“The Accoona Corp. donated between $250,001 and $500,000 to [the Clinton Foundation] after [Mr. Clinton] spoke at the company’s launch in New York in 2004, according to donor information released by the foundation in December. The foundation sold its Accoona stock for $700,000 two years later, according to the charity’s tax return for 2006.
“Despite what the tax return suggests, Accoona struggled mightily to turn a profit. In 2007, Accoona filed a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission reporting more than $60 million in losses during three years. In the same prospectus, it listed the China Daily Information Corp., a subsidiary of China Daily, the official English-language newspaper of the Chinese government, as an official partner and 6.9 percent owner of the company.... While the Clinton Foundation voluntarily disclosed the original donation of the stock, it still is unwilling to say who was willing to pay so much for its holdings in the struggling company.”
Overlap of Domestic Donors to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's Political Campaigns
A Washington Post review of Clinton Foundation data through 2014, found “substantial overlap between the Clinton political machinery and the [F]oundation.” For example, almost half of the major donors who were supporting Ready for Hillary, an organization promoting Mrs. Clinton's anticipated 2016 presidential run, and nearly half of the bundlers from Hillary's 2008 campaign, had given $10,000 or more to the Clinton Foundation, either personally or through foundations or businesses which they themselves headed. As of early 2015, for instance, Clinton friend and fundraiser Susie Tompkins Buell had given the Clinton Foundation some $10 million from her eponymous charitable fund. Another leading Clinton supporter, billionaire Haim Saban, had given an estimated $25 million to the Foundation.
Overlap of Key Personnel Involved with the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Political Campaigns
* The Washington Post noted on February 15, 2015: “The overlap between the Clintons’ political network and their charitable work was apparent [on February 13], when Dennis Cheng stepped down as the [F]oundation’s chief development officer ahead of his expected role as a key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.”
* Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe — who served as manager and chief fundraiser of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign — sits on the Clinton Foundation's board of directors and is one of its leading fundraisers.
* Clinton Foundation chief executive officer Bruce Lindsey was a senior advisor in the Bill Clinton White House.
* Clinton Foundation board member Cheryl Mills served not only as deputy White House counsel in the Clinton administration, but also as general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
An Apparent Quid Pro Quo Donation to the Clinton Foundation
In 2004, New York developer Robert Congel donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Soon thereafter, Senator Hillary Clinton reportedly helped Congel access millions of dollars in federal assistance for his mall project.
In 2011, John Podesta, who served as chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House, stepped in for several months as the Clinton Foundation's temporary chief executive. Also in 2011, Chelsea Clinton formally joined the Foundation’s board.
In 2013 the Clinton Foundation, with its 350 employees in 180 countries, adopted its new name and relocated its headquarters to Midtown Manhattan, occupying two floors of the Time-Life Building. Moreover, the New York Times reported: “Worried that the foundation’s operating revenues depend too heavily on Mr. Clinton’s nonstop fund-raising, the three Clintons are embarking on a drive to raise an endowment of as much as $250 million.”
Muslim Brotherhood Connection
In the latter half of 2012, a Clinton Foundation employee named Gehad el-Haddad left his job there to take a full-time position with the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Haddad’s tenure at the Clinton Foundation actually “overlapped with his official work for the Muslim Brotherhood, which began in Cairo in February 2011 when he assumed control of the Renaissance Project, a Brotherhood-backed economic recovery program.” Egyptian media describe the Renaissance Project as a program designed to implement the radical Islamization of Egyptian society. As the Egypt Independent reported in 2012:
“Renaissance is far more than the electoral program of [Egyptian] President Mohamed Morsi or the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. It is a 25-year project to reform state, business and civil society, rooted in the Brotherhood’s Islamic values but conditioned by the experiences of the project’s founders in the modern economy.... [Haddad] officially became a senior adviser for foreign affairs in Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party in May 2011, when he was still claiming to be employed by the Clinton Foundation.”
In Egyptian media during Morsi's tenure as president, Haddad was a frequent apologist for the Brotherhood’s violent crackdowns on civil liberties throughout the country. In September 2013 Haddad was arrested by Egyptian authorities in an ongoing roundup of seditious Islamist militants. Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Egyptian affairs, said:
“It was only a matter of time before Gehad el-Haddad was arrested. Many of the other Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have been apprehended, and in addition to decapitating the organization, the military-backed government has been specifically targeting the Brotherhood’s media wing, including by shutting down its TV stations at the time of [Egyptian President Mohammed] Morsi’s ouster on July 3. It has also gone after those connected to Morsi’s presidential office, and Gehad’s father is Morsi adviser and Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office member Essam el-Haddad.”
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)