But this time, they really really mean it! Yesterday afternoon, the Clinton Foundation promised not to accept foreign or corporate donations if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election. If that promise sounds oddly familiar, it should:
The Clinton Foundation announced Thursday that it would no longer accept donations from corporations or foreign entities if Hillary Clinton is elected president.
The decision comes amid mounting criticism of how the foundation operated during her tenure as secretary of state, potentially allowing donors to seek special access through her government post.
Former president Bill Clinton also announced to staff Thursday that the final meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative would be held in September in New York City, regardless of the outcome of the election.
This isn’t the first time that the Clinton Foundation has made this promise. In December 2008, after Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, foundation CEO Bruce Lindsey signed a Memorandum of Understanding about the operations of the foundation. Chief among them was a pledge not to seek or accept donations from foreign governments for the Clinton Global Initiative:
For the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), the foundation promised to seek a review and approval for any additional funds coming into the organization from foreign governments apart from the commitments already made. That meant going through both the State Department’s ethics division and the White House Counsel office. The MoU also confirmed that the foundation agreed to apply the same rules to all of its other units.
How did that work out the last time? Not well. The Washington Post reported in November that the foundation had to restate six years of tax documents to account for previously undisclosed revenue from foreign governments. Some of that income came from speeches given by Bill and Chelsea Clinton, the Post helpfully noted after warning that “conservative critics” would make hay off of the findings. But it was the not-conservative International Business Times that noted that foreign governments donating to the foundation got sweeter arms deals with Hillary at State than they had from the Bush administration. And it was the not-conservative Associated Press that later reported that corporate foundation donors had unprecedented access to the Secretary of State while Hillary ran Foggy Bottom, too.
But this time, I’m sure they’ll stick to that plan … when Hillary’s the one in charge of the whole enchilada at the White House, and there’s no one conducting oversight. Given how honest and forthright the Clintons have been in their public dealings, this seems like a churlish question to ask. Right? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.