Politico: Bill Clinton ‘Furious’ at Clinton Cash Attacks ‘Smearing’ His Foundation Legacy
Legacy of Corruption, Wow. Below is the expenses of their foundation. I was always under the imprecation that foundations are all charity donations and not payroll?
Annie Karni writes in Politicoabout former President Bill Clinton’s efforts to use the final meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to rebut the “smearing of his life’s work” at the Clinton Foundation, which has been tarnished by the “Clinton Cash”pay-to-play scandals.
His wife’s operatives are hunkered down in debate prep but Bill Clinton is waging a campaign of his own, trying to clear the name of a Foundation that has caused controversy in the 2016 race.
The former president views the final glitzy meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative — which he will address on Wednesday in an emotional farewell — as his last big opportunity to counter accusations that the philanthropy served as a vehicle for wealthy foreign donors to curry access with his wife’s State Department.
But with 48 days left in this contest — and voters in focus groups still expressing concern about what they view as inside dealing for Foundation donors seeking special access — many Democrats said they were baffled by the former President’s decision to carry on with the conference at all.
Trump has seized on the Foundation, accusing the Clintons of selling access. And on Monday, the Republican National Committee said the Foundation’s “continued acceptance of foreign contributions while [Hillary Clinton] runs for the White House is an unprecedented and unacceptable conflict of interest that undermines her ability to serve.”
The Foundation in August announced it would no longer accept corporate or foreign contributions if Hillary Clinton wins the White House and that CGI would come to an end, regardless of the election outcome. But even allies worried that this year’s conference was an unforced error that served only to cede the spotlight to the wrong Clinton just as the Democratic nominee needs to promote her own case to voters.
The former president seemed determined to turn it into an opportunity to change the narrative. Bill Clinton, close allies said, has been furious about what he sees as the “smearing” of his life’s work, the AIDS relief and the global fight on behalf of women’s rights overshadowed by questions of where the Foundation gets its money. And both Clintons, sources said, have been frustrated that Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn-based campaign has not done enough to explain the philanthropic work the charity does at home and abroad, or that its mission is moral, not financial.
After a week of being attacked for shady bookkeeping and questionable expenditures, the Clinton Foundation is fighting back. In a tweet posted last week, the Clinton Foundation claimed that 88 percent of its expenditures went “directly to [the foundation’s] life-changing work.”
In order for the 88 percent claim to be even remotely close to the truth, the words “directly” and “life-changing” have to mean something other than “directly” and “life-changing.” For example, the Clinton Foundation spent nearly $8.5 million–10 percent of all 2013 expenditures–on travel. Do plane tickets and hotel accommodations directly change lives? Nearly $4.8 million–5.6 percent of all expenditures–was spent on office supplies. Are ink cartridges and staplers “life-changing” commodities?
Those two categories alone comprise over 15 percent of all Clinton Foundation expenses in 2013, and we haven’t even examined other spending categories like employee fringe benefits ($3.7 million), IT costs ($2.1 million), rent ($4 million) or conferences and conventions ($9.2 million). Yet, the tax-exempt organization claimed in its tweet that no more than 12 percent of its expenditures went to these overhead expenses.
How can both claims be true? Easy: they’re not. The claim from the Clinton Foundation that 88 percent of all expenditures go directly to life-changing work is demonstrably false. Office chairs do not directly save lives. The internet connection for the group’s headquarters does not directly change lives.
But what if those employees and those IT costs and those travel expenses indirectly save lives, you might ask. Sure, it’s overhead, but what if it’s overhead in the service of a larger mission? Fair question. Even using the broadest definition of “program expenses” possible, however, the 88 percent claim is still false. How do we know? Because the IRS 990 forms submitted by the Clinton Foundation include a specific and detailed accounting of these programmatic expenses. And even using extremely broad definitions–definitions that allow office supply, rent, travel, and IT costs to be counted as programmatic costs–the Clinton Foundation fails its own test.
According to 2013 tax forms filed by the Clinton Foundation, a mere 80 percent of the organization’s expenditures were characterized as functional programmatic expenses. That’s a far cry from the 88 percent claimed by the organization just last week.
If you take a narrower, and more realistic, view of the tax-exempt group’s expenditures by excluding obvious overhead expenses and focusing on direct grants to charities and governments, the numbers look much worse. In 2013, for example, only 10 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s expenditures were for direct charitable grants. The amount it spent on charitable grants–$8.8 million–was dwarfed by the $17.2 million it cumulatively spent on travel, rent, and office supplies. Between 2011 and 2013, the organization spent only 9.9 percent of the $252 million it collected on direct charitable grants.
While some may claim that the Clinton Foundation does its charity by itself, rather than outsourcing to other organizations in the form of grants, there appears to be little evidence of that activity in 2013. In 2008, for example, the Clinton Foundation spent nearly $100 million purchasing and distributing medicine and working with its care partners. In 2009, the organization spent $126 million on pharmaceutical and care partner expenses. By 2011, those activities were virtually non-existent. The group spent nothing on pharmaceutical expenses and only $1.2 million on care partner expenses. In 2012 and 2013, the Clinton Foundation spent $0. In just a few short years, the Clinton’s primary philanthropic project transitioned from a massive player in global pharmaceutical distribution to a bloated travel agency and conference organizing business that just happened to be tax-exempt.
The Clinton Foundation announced last week that it would be refiling its tax returns for the last five years because it had improperly failed to disclose millions of dollars in donations from foreign sources while Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State.