Sunlight Foundation leader: Clinton Foundation a "slush fund"

Yesterday, the Clinton Foundation responded to a growing clamor for accountability with a statement from Maura Pally, the CEO of its unit focusing on programs for women and youth, admitting to “mistakes.” Pally denies that the errors intended to obfuscate their revenue or their spending, and that these kinds of errors are commonplace in large charitable organizations:


Like every contributor to the Foundation, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) is publicly listed as a donor on our website. But as it is a distinct Canadian organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation, its individual donors are not listed on the site. This is hardly an effort on our part to avoid transparency – unlike in the U.S., under Canadian law; all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors without prior permission from each donor.

I also want to address questions regarding our 990 tax forms. We have said that after a voluntary external review is completed we will likely refile forms for some years.  While some have suggested that this indicates a failure to accurately report our total revenue, that is not the case. Our total revenue was accurately reported on each year’s form – our error was that government grants were mistakenly combined with other donations. Those same grants have always been properly listed and broken out and available for anyone to see on our audited financial statements, posted on our website.

So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.

This appears to be a strategy of misdirection by seizing on the most minor point of contention. The issue on the uranium deal wasn’t that the Clinton Foundation didn’t list its donors. It’s that the deal got approved by the State Department after principals in the deal kicked in millions to the Foundation and one paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a single speech. Besides, as our good pal Morgen Richmond discovered last night, the Clinton Foundation had no trouble posting the individual donors to the Clinton-Giustra partnership in 2009. Why get shy lately?


Two other organizations have some pushback on the Clinton Foundation’s professions of honesty and value. Charity Navigator refuses to give the foundation a rating, and put it on its “watch list” of “problematic charities.”

Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation, not exactly a right-wing group, goes one step further:

“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group once run by leading progressive Democrat and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout. …

The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid. …

On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fundraising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel. None of the Clintons is on the payroll, but they do enjoy first-class flights paid for by the foundation.

In all, the group reported $84.6 million in “functional expenses” on its 2013 tax return and had more than $64 million left over — money the organization has said represents pledges rather than actual cash on hand.


That comes to a 6.4% rate of direct aid from contributions, in the first year that Hillary Clinton returned to the foundation. That’s actually worse than the 15% found by The Federalist for the previous four years. More than 60% went to “expenses,” with the rest left in the coffers of the “charity.” What exactly were all those expenses? And what purpose does this “charity” serve, if only 6.4% of its funds go to serve others than the Clintons and their organization?

Update: Jorge Bonilla notices a strange silence at Univision on the Clinton Foundation scandals:

 Last year, Politico’s Marc Caputo (then with the Miami Herald) noted the conflicts of interest inherent in the “Too Small To Fail Initiative”, a joint initiative between Univision and the Clinton Foundation. …

So far, the only coverage the news has received on the network is an online article which follows the “controversialization” template as described by Sharyl Atkisson. In its sole article, titled “Book charges that Hillary benefited organizations that gave money to the Clinton Foundation”, Univision helpfully notes that:

A new book about her should not be news(worthy), but when questions are raised about her tenure at the State Department and how she may have incurred financial gain from her position, (then) the matter takes another tenor.

Beyond this story, there is no further mention of the Clinton Foundation scandal. There has been no mention of the relationship between donations to the Foundation and the sale of Uranium One, no mention of the Foundation’s troubles in Haiti, and no mention of the Foundation’s designation as “problematic” by prominent charity watchdog Charity Navigator.


Well, Univision owner Haim Saban promised to use his “full might” to get Hillary elected, so …

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