Clinton Foundation stench driving away donors: Politico

Gee, I wonder why? After all, many of them haven’t yet been identified. Ken Vogel explains that the publicity surrounding the influence-peddling schemes at chez Clinton has potential donors looking elsewhere, but … does that apply to those who still want to buy influence? Hmmm.

Actually, the fact that so little goes to charity — and that the rate (6.4% in 2013) has become so public — is what has them rethinking their commitments:

One major donor who contributed at least $500,000 to the foundation last year said a 2015 donation is less likely because of revelations about sloppy record-keeping and huge payments for travel and administrative costs.

“There are a lot of factors and the reputational is among them,” said the donor, who did not want to be identified discussing philanthropic plans that have not been finalized. “We had some questions about how the money was being spent — and that was long before the problems were in the press.”

At least three other major donors also are re-evaluating whether to continue giving large donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, according to people familiar with its fundraising.

They say increasing financial pressures and escalating outside scrutiny have sparked sometimes intense internal debates about the priorities and future of a pioneering charitable vehicle that was supposed to cement the family’s legacy.

The pass-through rate should have big donors looking for much better options in charitable giving … if that was their intent in the first place. If that was true, though, wouldn’t those large institutional donors and the sophisticated wealthy individual donors have done some due diligence on that point? It didn’t take Sean Davis a huge amount of time to look through the records of the Clinton Foundation and discover that only 15% of revenues went to direct programmatic grants in the four years that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. The same tax records showed that over 60% of the revenue went to internal costs, an outrageously high level for a legitimate charity. It took even less to discover that the pass-through rate in 2013 was just 6.4%, and that almost as much money got spent on travel costs alone at the Clinton Foundation.

The “priorities” concern is just window dressing. People contributed to the Clinton Foundation to curry favor and get some leverage from their connections to power. The exposure of the Clinton Foundation as a political “slush fund” has embarrassed them, and now they want a reason to hit the exits. That’s why the foundation is in a “tailspin,” as Vogel puts it.

Plus, there’s also a new allegation of quid pro quo today from initial reviews of Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash. An Indian politician and donor says that his contributions convinced Hillary to change her stance on India’s use of nuclear technology:

Hillary Clinton changed her position on a 2008 nuclear agreement between the United States and India after Indian business and government interests flooded various Clinton enterprises with cash, a highly anticipated new book alleges in a chapter obtained by POLITICO. …

Implying that a group of influential Indians directed money and attention to the Clintons in order to get them to support the nuclear deal, the book details the activities of Sant Chatwal, the New York hotelier who in December was sentenced to three years probation for his campaign finance violations.

Chatwal allegedly helped arrange one of Bill Clinton’s most lucrative public speeches — a $450,000 affair in London — and once said, “Even my close friend Hillary Clinton was not in favor of the deal [in 2006] … But when I put the whole package together, she also came on board. … In politics nothing comes free. You have to write cheques in the American political system.”

Politico disputes a couple of the book’s contentions, but this is the kind of access and influence that donors expected to get. And in the end, in this and with Uranium One, they arguably got.