Guest post:  Elena Schlossberg.

No good deed goes unpunished.  And no truer words could be said of the Clinton Global Initiative Foundation. In the midst of outrage over CEO’s raking in millions while life saving drugs like epi pens increase by 400%, it is astonishing that anyone would find fault with an organization that has proven that with the right leadership, there is a way for partnerships in the private sector to mobilize and save lives that would otherwise be lost.

According to msn in an article entitled, “What Bill and Hillary’s Controversial Foundation Actually Does,” the facts are clear:

The most recent Clinton Foundation rating from another watchdog group, CharityWatch, gives the organization a solid “A.” The group says that the foundation spent 88% of its 2014 outlays directly on programs (rather than overhead) and that it only has to spend $2 to raise $100.

As for the Foundation’s specific claims about the number of people that it has reached through its programs? Those are a bit harder to verify. For instance, the price of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa has, indeed, dropped significantly since CHAI was launched in 2002, and the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that CHAI and a consortium of other partners helped make sure there was consistent access to these medications.

 

I am not suggesting that ex-presidents must find redemption by doing good deeds after they have left office, but if Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton model anything, it is that a servant of the people doesn’t have to be elected to office in order to save lives and bring hope to people who would otherwise be forgotten.

Republicans bemoan the use of government to provide humanitarian relief, as though that is the job of the private sector! Well, here you have two ex-presidents who have put their talents to good use. And what say the GOP? Nothing good, nothing good. Conspiracy theories are all they have to offer.

 

47 thoughts on “The Clinton Foundation: A good thing!

  1. Ed

    A common tax dodge for personal charity foundations, religious leaders and businesses is to run most of the executive’s expenses through the organization as business expense. If one’s car, house, travel, food, 401K etc are all expenses in the furtherance of the charity, business or religion, one needs a very small salary to live a very rich lifestyle and thus have little or no tax liability. If you can also get people to give you personal gifts that is tax free too.

    One could see how much this tax dodge is abused by analyzing the tax return. To be fair, any discussion of the Clinton Foundation requires the release of the Trump tax returns so we can see which candidate is sleaziest about avoiding paying taxes.by overstating the deductibility of expenses.

  2. Kelly_3406

    The issue is not whether the Cinton Foundation has done some good in the world. It clearly has. The issue is whether foreign donations provide a means for foreign governments to purchase access and concessions from the highest levels of US government. It is possible for a charity to perform good deeds while enormous sums of money are used to peddle influence and buy access to government officials. The released Clinton emails show that is what is happening here.

    The Clinton Foundation provides huge financial benefits to the Clintons. The benefit is derived partly from speaking fees — a large donation to the Clinton Foundation is often accompanied by large speaking fees for Bill and/or Hillary. Travel expenses are often paid by the Foundation when Bill goes to deliver his talk.

    For example, Uranium One needed approval from Hillary while she was Secretary of State for the company to be sold to Russia. It donated $2.6M to the Clinton Foundation at the same time that a Russian investment bank promoting Uranium One stock hired Bill to give a talk for $500K. There is a memo from Wikileaks that demonstrates that there was internal opposition to the Uranium One sale from career State Department employees. Nevertheless, approval of the sale was granted by the State Department, which resulted in huge profits for donors to the Clinton Foundation, plus it shifted large amounts of US uranium to Russian control.

    There also is strong evidence that companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation received approval from the State Department for previously denied weapons sales or larger weapons sales than those approved under previous administrations.

    A prime example of this was a US weapons sale to Algeria, which has a repressive record on human rights, including arbitrary killings. The sale was for defense articles that included items classified as toxicological agents, biological agents, and chemical agents. The State Department had disapproved the sale the previous year, but allowed it in the year after the Algerian donation to the Clinton Foundation.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/clinton-foundation-donors-got-weapons-deals-hillary-clintons-state-department-1934187

    These are not smoking guns that PROVE quid pro quo, but the mounting evidence should be hard for any reasonable person to ignore.

  3. Robin Hood

    Where was the outrage when Republican presidents started foundations to build their presidential libraries? Where is the outcry over Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns?

    1. Excellent question, Robin Hood!

    2. Kelly_3406

      @Robin Hood

      That question would be highly relevant if Jeb had won the Republican nomination. The chumminess of the Bushes with the Saudis is one reason that Jeb never came close to earning my support.

      1. What does Jeb Bush have to do with Trump tax returns and Republican presidential foundations?

    3. Steve Thomas

      @Robin Hood

      Were the wives of any of these ex-presidents aspiring to the presidency, while serving in elected office or major cabinet position? That is the distinction here.

      And what about those working for the foundation, while also working for the State Dept as both an actual employee, and as a consultant( how the heck that works, is beyond me). Perhaps if Clinton enforced better conflict of interest policies, there’d be fewer shots of Weiner’s weiner flying around the interwebs. But hey…the third scandal is the charm, right?

  4. Pat.Herve

    We all know – and so did the Clintons – that there is no way to separate the two (CGI and Hillary’s work) – and that flags would be raised. Even the simplest thing can sometimes seem like a conflict of interest – even if there is no conflict.

    1. Steve Thomas

      @Pat.Herve

      Do you mean things like the Whitehouse prohibiting the SecState from hiring Sydney Blumenthal and she just goes ahead and hires him under the CGI to accomplish that which she was forbidden to do? Perception is indeed critical.

      1. Pat.Herve

        @Steve Thomas

        Yes, that is just one thing.

  5. Steve Thomas

    Odd how the Points of Light foundation has managed to escape all appearance of scandal. Must be all of that right-wing control over the media that suppresses the truth and instead concocts suspicion and allegations regarding the Clinton foundation. Yep…gotta be.

    1. Robin Hood

      You must be referring to Fox News.

      The problem with the news reporting now is that Trump keeps saying stupid things to get media coverage and distracts attention from anything else. A good example would be when he called Clinton a bigot only interested in minority votes and then put out that tweet about the murder in Chicago and asked for votes. He never expressed any sorrow for the victim and people noticed that.

      Republicans cause their own problems and blame the media. Sarah Palin is another example of that.
      @Steve Thomas

      1. Steve Thomas

        @Robin Hood

        Oh…so this is about Trump now? I never mentioned Trump. So Trump made Bill and Hill stand up the foundation? So Trump made Hill decide to conduct official state department business on a personal server, which also happened to house the CGI emails too? I suppose Trump also convinced HRC that it was perfectly OK for Huma Weiner to be drawing paychecks from the US government, CGI, and from a consulting firm…consulting to the US Department of State?

        I never mentioned Trump. He SAYS asinine things all the time, and the reasons he does so, are beyond me. Hillary, on the other hand, DOES questionable things, then LIES about them, then LIES about LYING about it. Then tries to pin it on someone else. This is a matter of public record. I think we now have a pretty good idea why Clinton made the choices she made, regarding the email server…she wanted to facilitate communications between State, her staff, the DNC, and CGI, and wanted to hide this from the public record. What she didn’t count on is getting hacked. That is where this points. That is where the trail leads.

        I am awaiting the next Wiki-leaks dump with baited breath, and laughing at the irony: Those who decried Bush-era surveillance as such a tremendous invasion of privacy (sentiments with which I happen to agree), and cheered Snowden’s actions as well, are screaming for action, now that their dirty little secrets are out there. It’s Bush’s fault. It’s Trumps fault. It’s the Russian’s fault. It’s Colin Powell’s fault.

      2. I guess its all in your value system. Trump’s offends me far more than either Clinton. At least they aren’t trying on purpose to appeal to the least common denominator.

      3. Steve Thomas

        MoonHowler wrote:
        I guess its all in your value system.Trump’s offends me far more than either Clinton.At least they aren’t trying on purpose to appeal to the least commondenominator.

        So I guess the person shouting profanity is worse than the one picking your pocket, right?

        Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…just don’t offend me, is that your position?

      4. Trump more than offends me. I believe he is dangerous and unprepared and I also feel he is incredibly stupid.

      5. Robin Hood

        I was addressing your comment on the media. Like the character in Shakespeare, you protest too much. There’s a whole lot of smoke but no fire.

        @Steve Thomas

    2. I would say because GHWBush isn’t running for office would probably be a main reason for no hint of scandal.
      There is no real scandal with the Clinton Foundation.

      1. Steve Thomas

        @MoonHowler
        “I would say because GHWBush isn’t running for office would probably be a main reason for no hint of scandal.”
        Wow.
        “There is no real scandal with the Clinton Foundation.”
        Wow. Just wow.

        I am waiting for the pressure waves that will be flowing to fill the vacuum that exists by the total lack of intellectual honesty generated by this statement. When you have a friendly press questioning the actions of HRC, Huma Wiener, Cheryl Mills, and those lesser-staffers from CGI communicating the need for the then SecState to see “really good friends” of the CGI…yep, there’s no scandal. Move along. Nothing to see. Don’t mind the smoke…it’s just the Republic burning.

      2. I don’t believe there are friends in the press. Ever. If you believe there are, then I have a bridge for sale.

        I believe any scandal you perceive or believe exists is contrived.

      3. Steve Thomas

        @MoonHowler

        “I don’t believe there are friends in the press. Ever. If you believe there are, then I have a bridge for sale.

        I believe any scandal you perceive or believe exists is contrived.”

        If this is what you believe, then you would be the one in the market for a new or slightly -used bridge. You see, I can admit that Trump says outrageous things, which are understandably offensive to some. He’s said things that offend me. You cannot seem to admit that Hillary is crooked like a corkscrew.

      4. I don’t believe she is “crooked.”

      5. I don’t believe there are friends in the press. Ever. If you believe there are, then I have a bridge for sale.

        I believe any scandal you perceive or believe exists is contrived. As yourself if there would be a scandal if Hillary weren’t running for president.

      6. Steve Thomas

        @MoonHowler

        Don’t forget, both you and Elena thought the whole Weiner’s Weiner texting scandal was a contrivance too….and here we are, a few years later, and he’s been caught for the THIRD time. Of course, I am sure you will get really offended when Trump makes the eventual comment regarding how he can understand why Huma needs all those jobs since her husband can’t seem to keep one, or, maybe he wouldn’t be sexting all those women if she wasn’t working those three jobs.

      7. I don’t recall thinking that Weiner’s texting scandal was a contrivance. I don’t really recall what I initially thought. I guess I could research it.

        I actually don’t think Trump needs to comment on the situation at all. I don’t ever recall cutting Mr. Weiner a break. I have never particularly liked him.

      8. Ok, research done. Neither Elena nor I excused Anthony Weiner nor did we think it was a contrivance. How do you “contrive” THAT? I certainly didn’t post any articles or opinions that cut Weiner any slack. I mostly just made fun of him.

      9. Robin Hood

        Here we go again! If you have a losing argument you throw everything out there and hope something sticks. If you aren’t for Trump why do you repeat his talking points?

        This gossip about Weiner shows a lack of respect for a couple that has split. You can deride it as political correctness if you please, but it is really a matter of showing respect for other people.

        @Steve Thomas

      10. Then there is that question, regardless of who you like and don’t like, do you really think you could live with Trump being president?

      11. NorthofNokesville

        @MoonHowler

        I don’t like the idea. But there’s two questions in play. DT vs HRC, and does the the Clinton Foundation umbrella look like / cause a problem for HRC. I can easily see someone saying “HRC > DT but dammit HRC WTF re: CF?” The individual foundations and programs seem to be well-run and serve reasonably valuable ends (though citing CharityWatch doesn’t tell the full story, since it’s basically a “are you in line with generally accepted metrics?” re: how much intake actually goes to programs; says nothing about strings tied to those gifts, etc; not damning, but silent).

        The real issue is the pretty high correlation between “people/orgs who made big donations” and “people/orgs who got access to HRC” and that’s not sourced via crazy outlets, it’s the AP. Again, could be nothing, could be everything. Unless you were in the meeting (or in the principals’ heads) you don’t know what got decided or if anything material changed. Where I get frustrated is (a) folks who assert “it’s nothing” absent proof, and (b) those folks who also find credence in, say, Elizabeth Warren’s critique of (mostly conservative) foundations for having too much influence on policy – that argument has the same epistemic deficiency. In causal terms, what’s more likely to be effective? A meeting with a principal? Or a donation predicated on a particular policy angle published by a group that is by and large only a tiny part of the decision-making apparatus (and done in negative fashion, ie not funding things that speak against an interest)? The cognitive dissonance inherent in holding position (a) and (b) seems pretty substantial.

        Ultimately (pure editorializing as a relative outsider since I find much to loathe in both mainstream options), it feels tribal, they way branding experts speak about tribes. We boost and are more forgiving with our tribe, often even when confronted with evidence to the contrary, while non-tribe members get harsh judgment. This is happens all the time, brands are built on it, it underwrites cooperation, etc. But sometimes the strain in logic required is too much to bear.

      12. A reminder to everyone. I get the feeling that people are arguing with me and I didn’t write the piece. It was a guest post by Elena.

        I don’t necessarily disagree, but I think she should be given credit for the post or at least told “Hello Elena.”

  6. Ed

    Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Hillary is as crooked and as much a liar as Trump and either, if elected, will bring us 4 years of one scandal, real or imagined, after another .

    That still doesn’t answer the question of who do you want to run the executive branch? Which one has a stable of friends and contributors that will make a competent administration in the midst of scandal mongering? How well one’s campaign is run and who supports it tells a lot about administrative expertise. Clinton seems to have a stable campaign organization supported by the establishment while Trump is relying on the political fringe with unusual amount of turmoil and apparent incompetence. Trump isn’t ready having not yet amassed a team of the “best” people that can run the government.

    Thank you Elena for your contribution.

    1. NorthofNokesville

      Not really the point of the main post, but I’ll bite. I find them both unpalatable, for some of the same and some different reasons. I don’t find the “Corrupt but Competent” argument to be helpful personally. DT’s org is a hot mess, to be sure, but that might be good thing – we’re mathematically nearly certain to have divided government, maybe four years of someone who can’t get his worst done is better than someone who is better positioned to inflict damage. I honestly don’t know. It’s a scary and sad time either way.

      1. Ed

        Trump winning would be a clean sweep since Republicans would control the house and senate and would get a bonus supreme court nominee.

        @NorthofNokesville

      2. NorthofNokesville

        @Ed

        I don’t have a crystal ball, but other reasonably good sources suggest that’s unlikely to be the case.

        See the Iowa Electronic Markets (political prediction markets). Right now, Rep House Dem Senate (RHDS) is pricing at 0.433 which equates roughly to a 43% chance. DHDS is pricing at 0.18 (again, roughly). So 62% shot, plus Other (the only place you can bet on a tie) is pricing at 16%. Over at Realclearpolitics, the picture is tough for GOP: only one Dem seat is seriously contested (NV), while GOP has 9 incumbents and one open seat (Bayh will take) leaning Dem or in toss-up. Overall, decent odds of a gridlocked or Dem Senate – but let’s talk again in a month or at least after Labor Day. SCOTUS nom, you’re replacing Scalia, not a lot of net change if it’s from GOP (for practical purposes; not commenting on procedural BS).

  7. Ed

    For example, do you want Trump campaign workers (who can’t figure out that spending time campaigning in non-competitive states because supporters asked Trump to come is a waste of time and money) to be the ones who manage the federal budget?

    Politics is Darwinian and Trump is hopefully an endangered species.

  8. Starreyflights

    The Clinton should be praised for the good works they have done across the globe,

  9. Elena

    You know, here is how I feel. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have provided the organization to partner with rich people to save lives. Period. Is there a perfect separation between their public lives and private lives, no. But here is the plain simple fact, neither one is getting rich off the Clinton Foundation. Does it serve their ego’s to be at the epicenter of this success, yes, and I say, so effing what. That they have turned their “star” power into a machine of doing good is something that MORE people should be willing to do, and I know, here on this blog, we have people that do just that for those in their own community.

    What the Clinton Foundation has done more for impoverished women, provided life saving medicine to those in need, and figured out a way to actually bring success on the ground, not just as a wishful initiative with real implementation, is amazing and a testament to their ability to get stuff done!

    President Carter and President Clinton feel the spirit of serving and have found ways to change lives, good for them!

    http://iop.harvard.edu/get-involved/internships-careers/directors-internship-program/clinton-foundation

  10. NorthofNokesville

    Even NYT is sounding off. Note the phrase “hard to tell where the Foundation ended and the State Department began.” And the closing (below).

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/opinion/cutting-ties-to-the-clinton-foundation.html?_r=0

    Three snippets:

    “Does the new batch of previously undisclosed State Department emails prove that big-money donors to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation got special favors from Mrs. Clinton while she was secretary of state?

    Not so far, but that the question arises yet again points to a need for major changes at the foundation now, before the November election.”

    And this:

    “When Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state, the Obama administration tried to draw a line between the foundation, particularly its foreign-government sponsors, and her role. The new emails underscore that this effort was at best partly successful. “Pay-to-play” charges by Donald Trump have not been proved. But the emails and previous reporting suggest Mr. Trump has reason to say that while Mrs. Clinton was secretary, it was hard to tell where the foundation ended and the State Department began.

    Mrs. Clinton became involved in State Department deals and negotiations that also involved foundation donors or board members. She prompted multiple investigations with an arrangement that allowed Huma Abedin, her deputy chief of staff at the State Department and now vice chairwoman of her campaign, to be paid simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation and Teneo, a consulting firm run by Doug Band, the former adviser to Mr. Clinton who helped create the foundation — and who sent emails to Ms. Abedin seeking favors for foundation donors.

    The newly disclosed emails show that some foundation donors and friends, like Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin al-Khalifa of Bahrain, used foundation channels to seek access to Mrs. Clinton.”

    Finally…

    “The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity. If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton.”

    1. You know, I simply don’t care. I analyze the simpler things. I don’t want my president to have discussed his or her genitals with the public. Hillary Clinton has not done that. Trump has.

      It really doesn’t get much simpler than that. You all can wax poetic about the Clinton Foundation until the cows come home. Your protests are very transparent. The fact remains that Hillary has not alluded to the size of her vagina. That’s pretty much all it takes for me.

  11. NorthofNokesville

    Guess it’s a good thing Bill faces term limits then, eh? (joke)

    Everyone has to have their own decision rules and choice of what they ignore or discount. Between the two mainstream options, I don’t have an adequate decision framework, sort of like deciding between ways to feel pain or which vial of poison to swallow. So pondering is active, and sometimes enjoyable, though surely unproductive. An economist I admire very much recently blogged about a member of HRC’s transition team and her forthcoming book: “I disagree with it fundamentally, but still many of you will find it of considerable value. She is also the chief economist for Hillary Clinton’s transition team, and I would trust her with nuclear weapons.” Might be as simple as that.

    1. There is also the gender factor. It can’t be ignored. Obviously I wouldn’t vote for someone just because they were female…(Sarah Palin springs to mind) but a strong woman as president sounds good to me.

  12. middleman

    Another day, another Clinton “scandal.” And like all the other ones, there appears to be no scandal there. Whitewater, Vince Foster suicide, Travelgate, Troopergate, Bengahzi, E-mails and now the Clinton Foundation among others. All those investigations, special prosecutors (who were political hacks), millions of taxpayer dollars spent and the only thing the GOP has to hang their hat on is a stain on a blue dress. Does anyone really believe that if the Clintons were that powerful and able to quash all the others they would have allowed the Monica Lewinski scandal to go forward? Unless new information is released indicating differently, there’s no quid pro quo in the Clinton Foundation donations.

    The Clinton’s have obviously made lots of money (10-20 million a year together) over the past ten years, according to their joint tax returns. Individually, that’s about the half the average salary of a CEO in this country (13.8 million a year).

    While they’ve each been making half the salary of a CEO, Hillary has devoted her time to public service as a senator and Secretary of State, and Bill has directed one of the most successful charitable foundations in history, raising over 2 billion dollars as of 2016 and helping millions of people through various programs such as the Health Access Initiative, the Global Initiative, the CGI University, the Climate Initiative, the Development Initiative, Disaster Relief and many other programs. The foundation has won accolades from numerous entities, including the Bush Administration and H.W. Bush.

    I’m not going to defend the secrecy and untruthfulness of both Clintons and the immorality of Bill, and I’m no fan of Hillary as a politician. But no one can reasonably deny that they’ve been under almost constant political attack their entire political careers. And they’ve also done a lot of public good in that same period, in and out of office.

    1. Kelly_3406

      @middleman

      How do you know there was no quid pro quo?

      Foreign countries and individuals received access to the SecState and favorable outcomes from the State Department that were not in the interest of the United States, after making donations to the Clinton Foundation. Some of these favorable outcomes were reversals of previous decisions by the State Department.

      Quid pro quo has not been proven, but the facts as we know them certainly do not eliminate that the favorable outcomes could have been quid pro quo for making donations.

      I am sure that you WANT to believe there was no quid pro quo, but I have seen nothing yet that shows conclusively that it did not happen. But innocence is hard to show, which is why conflicts of interest should be avoided by ethical politicians.

      1. Would you be weaving a conspiracy theory if she were not running for president? Somehow, I doubt it.

  13. middleman

    Kelly, it’s hard to believe I’ve found someone that gets up as early as I do! We’re really gettin’ the worm, aren’t we!

    As you state, quid pro quo hasn’t been proven. You apparently think you know what I want to have happen regarding quid pro quo, but in reality I don’t particularly care if it’s proven in the future (even today!). As stated above, I don’t really have a dog in this fight, being no big fan of Hillary. But I am always amused by those who claim to know what others are thinking, so thank you for that.

    You are correct in your observance that a negative is hard to prove and so we’ve seen nothing yet that shows conclusively that it did not happen. We’ve not seen anything that shows Hillary’s culpability for Benghazi, Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster and all the rest, but we’ve also not seen anything showing conclusively that there’s no possibility that she is responsible for all those things. It’s called the presumption of innocence and is a key part of our judicial process.

    It’s pretty obvious that this drip, drip, drip of emails is the GOP plan to undermine Hillary’s campaign, and it’s also obvious that she left the door open for this with her actions. But I wouldn’t confuse this political maneuvering with anything approaching the reality of the situation.

    1. The drip, drip, drip is very obvious and transparent.

  14. middleman

    There’s also no conclusive proof that Hillary DIDN’T found ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and plan the 9-11 attacks, so we should stand up a congressional committee to investigate, led by Trey (aka Ed Grimley) Gowdy!

    But seriously, anyone who thinks that political contributions don’t allow access to the politicians, from county supervisor races to presidential contests, is only kidding themselves. That’s human nature, and we might wish it were different, but it isn’t. If it’s proven that Hillary provided quid pro quo, I say prosecute her!

Comments are closed.