This palate cleanser for today reminds me of the song from Shrek, sung by a Robin Hood character inexplicably given a French accent: I steal from the rich and give to the needy. (Merry Men: He takes a wee percentage!) But I’m not greedy! Bill Clinton complained to a crowd at an AFL-CIO event that mean Republicans keep making mean attacks on his charitable works at the Clinton Foundation. Why, the former president tells the crowd, I’m like Robin Hood …. without all the theft (via the Daily Caller):
“They even went after my foundation last week,” Clinton told the crowd at the AFL-CIO picnic. “Now that was really funny. I was sort of Robin Hood, except I didn’t rob anybody. I just asked people with money to give it to people who didn’t have money.”
Well … not precisely. The Clinton Foundation got rich people to give their money to the Clinton Foundation, which then turned around and spent some of the money on poor people. How much? This is where the “wee percentage” comes in. The Federalist took a look at its actual output relative to income, and discovered that more of the money given by rich people went to employee compensation for foundation personnel than to poor people:
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.
It got worse in 2013:
The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month.
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.
The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.
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.
The pass-through rate for 2013 was just 6.4%. Coincidentally, that’s also the same year that Hillary Clinton left the State Department and began planning for her 2016 run at the presidency. A number of her aides ended up back in the employment of the Clinton Foundation, another coincidence. And let’s not forget Bill Clinton’s massive income windfall during Hillary’s tenure at State, which certainly helped keep the Clintons as far from poverty as possible.
Among Robin Hoods, we can probably rank Bill somewhere between Shrek‘s recasted Saxon hero into a Norman plunderer, and … this one: