Flashback: Clinton Foundation Official Says Organization 'Not Charity, It's All Bankable'

Guy Benson
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Posted: Apr 28, 2015 4:22 PM
Flashback: Clinton Foundation Official Says Organization 'Not Charity, It's All Bankable'

I suppose I could've tacked this on to my earlier Hillary post, but I decided it deserves to be showcased on its own. A tip of the hat to The Federalist's Sean Davis, who has been doing outstanding work on the Clinton Foundation, and who's mined quite the chestnut from a 2007 interview:

The tax-exempt non-profit has also been criticized for spending a huge chunk of its money on items like office supplies and travel instead of on charitable grants. An analysis by The Federalist showed that the Clinton Foundation spent less than 10 percent on charitable grants from 2011 through 2013. One argument offered by Clinton defenders is that the former first family’s charitable organization isn’t a grant-making foundation and instead chooses to do much of its charitable work in-house. The result, according to these defenders, is that the group’s charitable work won’t really show up on a tax form since the bulk of it is done by salaried employees of the foundation. There’s only one problem with this rationale: it was resoundingly rejected by Ira Magaziner, the CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the brains behind the Clinton Foundation. “This is not charity,” Magaziner told The Atlantic in 2007. “The whole thing is bankable. It’s a commercial proposition.” Magaziner was referring to the energy and climate change activities of the Clinton Foundation. Back in 2007, when Magaziner was interviewed at length about the organization’s activities by reporter Jonathan Rauch, the Clinton Foundation was still a singular entity.

The Foundation has since restructured, but Magaziner's candid quote about its inception and focus jarringly undermines the notion that the Clintons have been operating an active global charity.  As we noted yesterday, a Sunlight Foundation official has characterized the organization as a "slush fund," which critics allege (with good reason) established a shadowy bank account -- into which individuals, entities and governments could pour large sums of money, in order to curry favor with Hillary and Bill Clinton.  The former president also accepted large speaking fees from groups and corporations that were actively lobbying his wife's State Department on matters pertaining to their financial interests.  I buried the following note in my piece this afternoon, but it bears repeating: Remember how the New York Times reported this element of the Russia/uranium deal, about which the Clintons also lied?

Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.

Team Clinton shoved back, justifying this agreement-broaching opacity as required by Canadian law (some of the biggest donors related to this deal were from Canada).  Their hands were tied, they argued.  (Were there loopholes in the disclosure pledge Mrs. Clinton "struck with the Obama White House"?) Mollie Hemingway, also of The Federalistmeticulously documents how these excuses fail on multiple levels:

After this article was initially published, the Clinton Foundation sent The Federalist two links (here and here) allegedly supporting its contention that federal law in Canada prohibits public disclosure of the names of charitable organization donors. Unfortunately for the Clinton Foundation, neither link supports the organization’s rationale for deliberately withholding donor information from the public. In fact, one of the links actually includes information that directly contradicts the Clinton Foundation’s assertion...As noted by tax experts quoted in the story below, and contrary to the claims of the Clinton Foundation, there is simply no blanket federal ban in Canada on the public disclosure of non-profit donors...The Clintons say that they don’t disclose donors to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) and that while, sure, all sorts of shady stuff could be funneled through a group that doesn’t disclose its donors that give exclusively to the Clinton Foundation, “[t]his is hardly an effort on our part to avoid transparency” because “unlike in the U.S., under Canadian law; all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors” without their approval. This is problematic on multiple fronts. For one thing, donors to the outfit were disclosed — in Canada. They just weren’t disclosed to U.S. media.

Oops, another Clinton fable bites the dust -- just as we saw over several rounds of email scandal excuse-making and subsequent backtracking. And just as we saw in this clip, in which a New York Times reporter was told that a uranium deal-related meeting with Khazakh officials had never taken place at the Clintons' New York home...until photographic evidence forced them to change their story: