Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was bombarded Wednesday night and Thursday morning by report after report revealing new details about the finances of her family foundation.
Notably, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both published in-depth stories linking undisclosed donations to the Clinton foundation to the sale of US uranium production to a Russian government agency. Additionally, The Washington Post connected Clinton’s personal fortune to the foundation’s donor network and Reuters revealed the foundation misreported tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments.
All but the Reuters report are linked to an upcoming book, “Clinton Cash,” that purports to connect special favours doled out by Clinton’s State Department to lucrative speaking fees paid to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and donations to their foundation. Politico and the Washington Examiner also published separate stories Wednesday and Thursday tied to the book.
Clinton’s campaign has vigorously disputed the allegations in “Clinton Cash” and characterised the book as part of a partisan “coordinated attack strategy, twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.” Clinton allies have further dismissed the author, Peter Schweizer, as a right-wing operative, noting his work for George W. Bush’s administration and for the conservative-leaning news site Breitbart. Schweizer has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider.
Here are the main accusations currently hitting the Clinton campaign:
Uranium mining interests
In 2010, the Russian state-owned agency Rosatom was approved to purchase a 51% stake in Uranium One, a Canadian mining company that also owned a massive uranium mine in Wyoming, according The Journal. The newspaper reported that the Wyoming location “could produce up to half of the US output of uranium this year” and some federal lawmakers had urged the US government to block the sale at the time.
The deal required approval from several US government entities, including Clinton’s State Department, through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The CFIUS reviews deals that could cause foreign governments to control US assets important to national security.
At the same time, Uranium One investors reportedly gave millions of undisclosed dollars to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. According to The Times, this broke an ethics agreement Clinton’s foundation had struck with President Barack Obama’s administration to avoid potential conflicts of interest between her foundation and government work.
“As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions … a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation,” The Times reported. “Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $US2.35 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. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.”
The Clinton campaign told both newspapers that it would be wrong to infer she had anything to do with the State Department’s approval of the deal.
“[The sale] went through the usual process, and the official responsible for managing CFIUS reviews has stated that the secretary did not intervene with him,” Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin told The Journal. “This book is twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.”
Bill Clinton’s speaking fees
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Bill Clinton was paid $US26 million by companies and organisations that were also major donors to the Clinton family foundation. In total, Bill Clinton has reportedly earned more than $US100 million in speaking fees, proceeds from which also went to Hillary Clinton.
“The amount … demonstrates how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth,” The Post’s Rosalind Helderman wrote. “The Clintons’ relationships with major funders present an unusual political challenge for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now that she has formally entered the presidential race, the family may face political pressure and some legal requirements to provide further details of their personal finances and those of the foundation, giving voters a clearer view of the global network of patrons that have supported the Clintons and their work over the past 15 years.”
The paper reported that many of the donors who paid Bill Clinton to speak and gave to his foundation were “major financial institutions that are viewed suspiciously by liberals whom Clinton has been courting as she seeks to to secure the Democratic nomination.” Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, and Citi Group gave between $US2.75 million and $US11.5 million to the foundation, and paid more than $US3 million to Bill Clinton for paid speeches.
A spokesman for the foundation, Craig Minassian, said the overlap makes sense as companies that are interested in hearing Clinton speak would also likely be interested in the charitable work he is doing around the world.
“It’s not surprising that organisations who believe strongly in the Clinton Foundation’s mission and are impressed by its results are genuinely interested in President Clinton’s perspective,” Minassian told The Post. “The president often says the foundation is his life today, and he welcomes any opportunity to educate people about it and encourage more people to work together to solve some of the most critical global challenges we all face.”
Regardless, the report is unlikely to benefit Hillary Clinton, who has long been battered by critical stories and her own gaffes about their family fortune.
The foundation’s tax returns
Reuters’ Jonathan Allen also reported Thursday that the foundation’s tax returns were riddled with errors and misreported income surrounding donations from foreign governments.
“For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars,” Allen wrote.
However, those contributions were nevertheless included in the foundation’s annual list of donors, which are reported in broad amounts on the foundation website.
Minassian, the foundation spokesman, told Reuters that his nonprofit intends to review its 990 returns and then refile them. The foundation may also audit other foundation tax returns, he said.
“Some experts in charity law and taxes said it was not remarkable for a charity to refile an erroneous return once in a while,” Allen wrote, “but for a large, global charity to refile three or four years in a row was highly unusual.”
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