Republicans ask White House about Clinton's broken charity donors promise

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2015 5:10 PM

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Republican Party chairman asked U.S. President Barack Obama's administration on Wednesday to disclose when it first learned that Hillary Clinton's pledge to disclose all donors to her family's charities had been "repeatedly violated."

Clinton, the front-runner to become the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, signed on to the transparency agreement with Obama's incoming administration in late 2008 before becoming secretary of state.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, appealed to the White House after Clinton Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) officials confirmed to Reuters last week that no complete list of donors had been published since early 2010, a year into Clinton's four-year tenure at the State Department.

Clinton's political opponents have taken her to task, ahead of next month's expected announcement of her candidacy, for allowing the charities to accept money from foreign governments. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, also signed the transparency agreement in December 2008.

In a letter to the White House on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, Priebus wrote the agreement "was billed to the public and Congress as a pledge toward transparency and the avoidance of conflicts of interest."

"The American people deserve to know whether it was nothing more than a memorandum between parties that had no real interest in either of those goals," Priebus wrote. The agreement, he added, "at times was blatantly ignored."

The letter cited reports by Reuters and the Washington Post that the Clinton Foundation and associated charities accepted foreign government money without first seeking a review by State Department lawyers, as promised in the agreement.

Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, raised concerns about Clinton's philanthropy work during her nomination hearing in January 2009.

"I have no way to judge motive," he said in a phone interview, "but after the enormous attention and discussion that went into this issue during Hillary's confirmation process, it amazes me that more effort wasn't put into living up to their commitments."

The Clinton Foundation, best known for reducing the cost of drugs for people with HIV in the developing world, has said collaboration with foreign governments is essential for its humanitarian work.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment when asked about the Republican letter by reporters on Wednesday. The White House has declined to answer questions from Reuters about when it first learned the transparency agreement was breached.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller)