Over the last few days, Hillary Clinton apologists have taken to the airwaves and Internet to declare any criticism of the Clinton Foundation as an attack on charity itself. James Carville launched these talking points, suggesting that critics would find themselves damned to Hell if the foundation shut down or curtailed its activities. Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough punctured Carville’s trial balloon earlier this week with barely-disguised disgust.
After watching a clip of Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon trot out the same argument on Andrea Mitchell’s show yesterday, Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski didn’t even bother with the disguise, calling the argument “pathetic” (via The Hill):
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 25, 2016
“That is so pathetic, you all are not really that pathetic, are you?” the “Morning Joe” host shot back.
“You’re going to actually say that if Bill Clinton doesn’t have the opportunity to shake down billionaires, that AIDS will not be cured?” he asked.
Scarborough went on to mock Fallon’s defense, saying that President Obama is “Moses and has the ability to stop the tides from rising in our time.”
“And Bill Clinton, shaking down billionaires in Kazakhstan, while doing deals on the side and getting down $550,000 for a one-hour speech — that’s our only path forward to curing AIDS,” he said.
“You’re not really that pathetic, are you? Because if that’s the best line of attack you have, you need to go back to middle school and start all over again.”
Yes … yes, they really are that pathetic. And they’re not alone, either. The internet is filling up with the argument that a shutdown or scale-back of Clinton Foundation operations will suddenly leave the world’s downtrodden with no other path to salvation, and that its critics literally just want little children to die. That’s an argument based on nothing more than pathos and partisan hackery, making it both literally and figuratively pathetic.
Here are two inconvenient facts for those trotting out this argument:
- There are a number of charitable organizations that work on the same issues as the Clinton Foundation, including AIDS and poverty. Those existed before the Clintons started their foundation, and they will operate after its closure.
- Most of these organizations had pass-through grant rates far above the 15% level of the Clinton Foundation during the years that Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, not to mention the 6.4% pass-through grant rate in 2013.
The Federalist’s Sean Davis exposed the low pass-through rates 18 months ago, and their defenders have yet to catch up to them:
Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.
In the absence of the Clinton Foundation, those millions of dollars would simply flow to other charities — if indeed that was the purpose of those funds. If the purpose of those funds was to curry favor with the Clintons and influence government actions to benefit themselves, as seems to be the case, then those dollars weren’t really saving lives at all anyway. Based on the financials, the Clinton Foundation took the axiom Charity begins at home literally — which is why the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison called it a “slush fund” for the Clintons, and why Charity Navigator watch-listed the foundation for years as “problematic” and still won’t provide a rating for it.
Hillary’s defenders want to save lives, all right — mainly the political lives of the Clintons.