Clinton Foundation-State Department controversy
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Template:Hillary Clinton seriesDuring Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, a number of individuals, organizations, and countries contributed to the Clinton Foundation either prior to, or while, pursuing interests with the U.S. State Department.[no citations needed here]Template:Dubious
The disclosure of interactions between officials at the Clinton Foundation and top aides of Clinton among emails from Clinton’s private email server has furthered the controversy regarding the ties between the organizations and raised allegations that government access was traded for money during Clinton’s time at the State Department.Template:By whom? Clinton has denied these allegations and there has been no directTemplate:Weasel word evidence that government favors were exchanged for money.
Charity Watch, a nonprofit charity watchdog organization, has given the Clinton Foundation an "A rating" overall, higher than the American Red Cross, and the "highest rated" grade for "Transparency and Governance".
- 1 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and warning from Senator Lugar
- 2 Access to Secretary of State Clinton
- 3 Donations by foreign entities
- 4 Emails between Clinton Foundation and State Department
- 5 Transparency issues
- 6 Reaction to revelations in 2016
- 7 References
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and warning from Senator Lugar
Prior to becoming Secretary of State, Clinton approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration which restricted the foundation from accepting new donations from foreign governments during her tenure. This was intended to mitigate the potential for inappropriate influence of the State Department by foreign governments.
The agreement permitted donations from governments who had contributed to the Foundation in the past, but prohibited contributions from governments that had not previously donated. The MOU promised that the foundation would publish all contributors' names, and would seek prior approval from the State Department ethics office for new foreign donors.
In January 2009, when Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a nominee, Senator Richard Lugar (the senior Republican on the committee) warned her that the foundation was “a unique complication that will have to be managed with great care and transparency.” Lugar predicted that the foundation could create the impression that foreign donors were giving money to gain access at the State Department: "The core of the problem is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the Secretary of State".
Access to Secretary of State Clinton
Template:Irrelevant An analysis in 2016 by the Associated Press indicated that at least 85 of 154 people from private interests that Clinton met or had phone conversations with while Secretary of State donated to the Clinton Foundation. The AP stated that it represented an "extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president". In total, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million to the Foundation. The analysis did not include Clinton’s meetings with other government officials from the U.S. and other countries, since "such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties". Regarding the analysis, a Clinton spokesman responded “It cherry-picked a limited subset of Secretary Clinton's schedule to give a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation.”Template:RS
In one particular case, a top donor to the foundation named Raj Fernando was placed on the International Security Advisory Board within the State Department, despite being apparently less qualified than many other members of that Board. The request for his appointment came from Secretary Clinton's office, and Fernando resigned shortly after ABC News made inquiries about it.
The AP's report on the Clinton Foundation has been called a "big failure" by CNN because it presented "facts out of context and somehow built a whole report around Clinton having done nothing wrong". The Washington Monthly wrote that AP that AP "took some interesting information they gathered and spun it into something it wasn’t…scandalous." Matthew Yglesias wrote that the AP story's conclusions "turned out not to be true".
Donations by foreign entities
In February 2015, the Washington Post reported that during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation accepted several million dollars in donations from seven foreign governments, including a donation from one government—that of Algeria—in violation of Clinton’s agreement with the administration. In 2010, the Foundation had accepted $500,000 from Algeria. The Foundation indicated that the donation was to contribute to relief efforts in Haiti. The Post noted that the donation "coincided with a spike" in lobbying efforts by Algeria of the State Department regarding their human rights record.
From 2009 to 2013, the Russian atomic energy agency (Rosatom) acquired Uranium One, a Canadian company with global uranium mining stakes including 20% of the uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset with national security implications, the acquisition was analyzed by a committee of nine government agencies, including the State Department, which was then headed by Clinton. The voting members of the committee can object to such a foreign transaction, but the final decision then rests with the president.
In April 2015, the New York Times reported that, during the acquisition, the family foundation of Uranium One's chairman made $2.35 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation. The donations were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite a prior agreement to do so. In addition, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin and which was promoting Uranium One stock paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow shortly after the acquisition was announced. According to Factcheck.org, there is "no evidence" that the donations influenced Clinton's official actions or that she was involved in the State Department's decision to approve the deal.
Switzerland's largest bank
When Clinton took office as Secretary of State, the Internal Revenue Service was suing Switzerland's largest bank, UBS AG, to obtain information on Americans with secret accounts at the bank. The bank's situation was complicated by the fact that, by acceding to the IRS's requests, the bank would potentially violate Switzerland's secrecy laws. Following what the Wall Street Journal referred to as "an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat", Clinton announced a tentative settlement between UBS and the IRS. Based on the terms of the settlement, UBS provided information on the identities of 4,450 Americans with accounts at the bank out of a total of 52,000 requested by the IRS. The agreement was criticized by some lawmakers in the U.S. who had been seeking additional information.
Following the settlement in 2009, UBS's donations to the Clinton Foundation increased significantly. Through 2008, the bank had donated $60,000 cumulatively to the Foundation. By 2014, the total had grown to $600,000. The bank also paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million for a series of question-and-answer sessions with its CEO, which was the top source of corporate speech income for Clinton between 2001 and 2014.
Emails between Clinton Foundation and State Department
A number of emails released by Judicial Watch in August 2016 from Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State included dialogue between Doug Band, an official at the Clinton Foundation and personal aide to Bill Clinton, and top aides of Hillary Clinton. In one exchange in April 2009, Band lobbied for a job at the State Department on behalf of someone else saying it was "important to take care of (redacted)." Clinton's aide, Huma Abedin, responded "Personnel has been sending him options".
In June 2009, Band emailed Abedin requesting a meeting with Clinton for Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain. Band referred to the Prince as “a good friend of ours”. In 2005, the Prince had committed to contribute $32 million to scholarships through the Clinton Global Initiative. Abedin responded, offering the Prince a meeting.
In December 2010, Band and Abedin exchanged emails regarding efforts to obtain invitations to an official lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao for Clinton Foundation donors. The potential guests who were discussed included Bob McCann, then-president of wealth management at UBS, Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation president, and Hikmet Ersek, Western Union CEO. Band requested that Rodin be seated at the same table as Vice President Biden.
According to CNN, the emails "raise questions about the Clinton Foundation's influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure". The Clinton campaign has denied that the State Department took any actions based on contributions to the Clinton Foundation.
Despite the MOU between the Clinton Foundation and the Obama Administration, the foundation's Clinton Health Access Initiative failed to report donors from 2009 to 2013, though later sought to rectify that omission. Clinton has also said she did not know that she was required to turn over emails when she left office, and attributed that unawareness to a concussion she suffered in 2012.
Reaction to revelations in 2016
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, during his unsuccessful presidential campaign, criticized Clinton for a conflict of interest: "Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of State and a foundation run by her husband collects many, many dollars from foreign governments — governments which are dictatorships? Yeah, I do have a problem with that. Yeah, I do". Republican Senator John Cornyn, who voted for Clinton's confirmation in 2009, says that she duped Congress, that he now regrets his vote, and that President Obama should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether donors to the foundation gained improper access at the State Department.
- Bolton, Alexander. "Cornyn: Clinton duped Congress during confirmation", The Hill (September 5, 2016).
- Helderman, Rosalind S.; Hamburger, Tom (February 25, 2015). "Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept.". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/foreign-governments-gave-millions-to-foundation-while-clinton-was-at-state-dept/2015/02/25/31937c1e-bc3f-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html.
- Merica, Dan (February 26, 2015). "Clinton Foundation: 2010 donation broke Obama administration agreement". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/politics/clinton-foundation-donation-algeria-haiti/index.html.
- Braun, Stephen (August 23, 2016). "Many Donors to Clinton Foundation Met with Her at State". Associated Press. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/08/23/many_donors_to_clinton_foundation_met_with_her_at_state_131593.html.
- Detrow, Scott (August 25, 2016). "'Saving Lives' Or 'Selling Access'? Explaining The Clinton Foundation". NPR. http://www.npr.org/2016/08/25/491282347/saving-lives-or-selling-access-explaining-the-clinton-foundation.
- Graham, David. "From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer", The Atlantic (September 2, 2016): "She also said she was unaware of the requirement that she turn over her emails when she left office, which she said might be due in part to a concussion she suffered in 2012...."
- Chozick, Amy; Martin, Jonathan (September 3, 2016). "Where Has Hillary Clinton Been? Ask the Ultrarich". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/us/politics/hillary-clinton-fundraising.html?_r=0. Retrieved September 5, 2016. "The campaign’s finance team is led by Dennis Cheng, previously the chief fund-raiser for the Clinton Foundation, and it employs a couple dozen staff members."
- Sanchez, Raf (February 26, 2015). "Clinton Foundation admits breaking ethical rules by taking money from Algeria". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/11437994/Clinton-Foundation-admits-breaking-ethical-rules-by-taking-money-from-Algeria.html.
- "Did Clinton help Russia obtain uranium for donations? Nope". http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/30/donald-trump/donald-trump-inaccurately-suggests-clinton-got-pai/.
- Becker, Jo; McIntire, Mike (April 23, 2015). "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html?_r=1.
- Campbell, Colin; Engel, Pamela (April 23, 2015). "The Clinton Foundation received millions from investors as Putin took over 20% of US uranium deposits". http://finance.yahoo.com/news/clinton-foundation-received-millions-uranium-132500796.html.
- Kiely, Eugene (April 28, 2015). "No 'Veto Power' for Clinton on Uranium Deal". http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/no-veto-power-for-clinton-on-uranium-deal/.
- Grimaldi, James V.; Ballhaus, Rebecca (July 30, 2015). "UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Ties". Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/ubs-deal-shows-clintons-complicated-ties-1438223492.
- Flores, Reena (August 10, 2016). "Emails show links between State Department and Clinton Foundation". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/emails-show-links-between-state-department-and-clinton-foundation/.
- Diaz, Daniella (August 10, 2016). "Newly released Clinton emails shed light on relationship between State Dept. and Clinton Foundation". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/09/politics/hillary-clinton-emails-judicial-watch/.
- Gass, Nick (August 22, 2016). "New emails show Clinton aide setting up meeting with foundation patrons". Politico. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/clinton-foundation-huma-abedin-doug-band-227275.
- "New emails reportedly show Clinton Foundation exec, State Dept. aide discussed access to China president". Fox News. August 28, 2016. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/28/new-emails-reportedly-show-clinton-foundation-exec-state-dept-aide-discussed-access-to-china-president.html.
- Karl, Jonathan; Dwyer, Devin; Siegel, Benjamin (August 27, 2016). "Clinton Foundation Official Requests State Lunch Invitation, Special Seating for Foundation Allies, Emails Show". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-foundation-official-requests-state-lunch-invitation-special/story?id=41695275.
- Hellmann, Jessie. "Sanders hits Clinton Foundation over foreign donations", The Hill (June 5, 2016).