08:30 GMT +307 December 2019
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    The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will continue to accept donations from a limited group of foreign countries - mainly from six nations in particular - despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her bid for the US presidency.

    Clinton Foundation Decision to Accept Foreign Money Raises Eyebrows

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    The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will continue to accept donations from a limited group of foreign countries - mainly from six nations in particular - despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her bid for the US presidency. It’s a decision that could haunt her on the campaign trail.

    According to a policy summary released Thursday, the six countries that will still be allowed make donations — Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom — are nations that already have a history of donating to the foundation for climate change, health and economic development. 

    Clinton stepped down from the board of the foundation Sunday when she announced she would seek the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016, and the Foundation has said it will increase the frequency with which it reports donations to four times a year. 

    Large donations from other nations will not be allowed, though they will still be accepted by the Clinton Global Initiative, a subsidiary of the main Foundation. 

    Concerns raised during the 2008 presidential campaign that donations to a foundation run by her husband represented a conflict of interest for Clinton while she ran for or held public office led to an agreement that outlined restrictions on foreign government donations.The foundation remained under Bill Clinton's direction during her tenure at the State Department. 

    Though only one of the donations made by foreign governments seems to have violated the terms of that 2008 agreement, the resumption of donations since the agreement's lapse in 2013 has raised ethical concerns since Clinton was still seen as an almost inevitable presidential candidate. 

    Some of the donors in 2014 were also seen as politically sensitive, coming from countries with, for example, poor human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Canada also donated while lobbying for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    This potentially murky flow of money to a foundation that, in the end, still bears Clinton's name, may be fuel for her political opponents. Just a day earlier, Clinton announced her support for campaign finance reform — even a potential constitutional amendment — to bring transparency to the money flowing through US electoral politics.

    The new donation limits would allow foreign governments’ ministers to attend meetings, appear on panels, and pay up to $20,000 to do so. Officials will also cease holding events around the world — the exception being one in Morocco in May that the foundation felt was coming up too soon to be cancelled. 

    "By implementing this new, even stronger and more transparent policy, the Clinton Foundation is reinforcing its commitment to accountability while protecting programs that are improving the lives of millions of people around the world," said Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian. 

    "Alarm Bells" for Clinton's Opponents

    Among recent negative reports about the foundation and its many projects was that the Clinton Health Access Initiative failed to report donations from 2010 to 2013 in violation of that 2008 agreement. 

    The foundation also came under fire for a lack of transparency in the information it did report. The list of contributions was incomplete, including only ranges of donations, and the Foundation failed to include specific dates or the names of people who collectively donated less than $1 million. 

    "The Clinton Foundation receiving foreign government funding as Hillary Clinton campaigns to be president should set off alarm bells," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told the Wall Street Journal. "The fact that the Clinton Foundation previously failed to disclose foreign government donations should cast even greater doubt on any new policy."

    The foundation also received a total of $26 million in corporate donations by at least 60 companies while Clinton held public office from 2009 to 2013, the Journal found.

    After a massive leak of account information from the Swiss arm of UK-based bank HSBC, it was found that several account-holders at the scandal ridden bank had also been Clinton Foundation donors — though none was found to have participated in the tax-dodging practices that have tarnished the bank’s reputation. 

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    Tags:
    campaign finance, conflict of interest, presidential campaign, donor, foreign donations, The Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton
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