After coming under intense criticism for alleged pay-to-play activities, Bill and Chelsea Clinton recently sat down with Billboard to defend the Clinton Foundation and all of the great work it does…apparently like hosting concerts with Elton John, Usher, Bon Jovi and Sting. Of course, the attempts to repair the Foundation’s tarnished image come as it has suffered in recent weeks from the relentless daily flow of damaging emails leaked by WikiLeaks showing numerous internal conflicts of interest, donations from questionable foreign leaders and seemingly blatant “pay-to-play” activities involving the Clintons’ work in Haiti and elsewhere.
Bill Clinton, vibrant and trim at 70, in a tailored navy suit and a bright red tie, strolls into Billboard’s makeshift photo studio at the New York Hilton Midtown in late September, during the 12th and final meeting of his charitable foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which has long tapped musicians to give voice to causes. “It’s astonishing the impact they’re having,” says the president about the artists he has worked with through the years, from Elton John to Usher. Right now, rock legends Jon Bon Jovi and Sting trail him quietly like starstruck roadies.
Their family name is getting dragged through the mud along with the reputation of the foundation to which Clinton has dedicated his post-White House life. While Hillary remains the clear frontrunner in the election, with just days to go, a steady drip of embarrassing-at-best hacked emails, released by WikiLeaks, has dampened spirits during her campaign’s stretch run. In the latest example, on Wednesday (Oct. 26), media outlets reported on a leaked memo from 2011 that raises further concerns about the intersection of the former president’s charitable work with his and his colleagues’ personal enrichment, in which a veteran aide to the president said that Clinton “gets many expensive gifts” from donors, while Chelsea warned of various aides profiting from the Foundation’s endeavors.
Of course, Bill and Chelsea would suggest that we all simply ignore their internal emails and understand that “First and foremost the Clinton Foundation is a charity, and somehow that has gotten lost.” As Chelsea points out, everyone would surely be proud of the Clinton Foundation if they could just look beyond the “clickbait headlines” that keep trying to spread the malicious truth.
“It’s hard to hear because I know good and well that a lot of the people that are saying it know it’s not true. It’s an insult to all the people who have worked there. But the people who have contributed know, and the people who have done the work know, and sometimes that’s got to be enough.” His daughter, Chelsea, who is vice chairman of the foundation, is troubled by the accusations too. “First and foremost the Clinton Foundation is a charity, and somehow that has gotten lost,” she says.
The Clinton Foundation uses 10 percent of its endowment in the way any foundation would: to fund charitable work. But most of the remaining 90 percent goes toward charitable work the organization carries out itself, along with its various partners. “We have been very transparent about the work that we do and how it’s funded, and that 87 percent of our funds go directly to our work,” says Chelsea. “I would hope that if people spend a little bit of time looking beyond the clickbait headlines, they’ll realize why I am so proud.”
Ironically, it was Chelsea and and long-time Clinton aide Doug Band who supplied most of the “clickbait”…we couldn’t possibly make up material this good:
Oddly, wjc does not have to sign such a document even though he is personally paid by 3 cgi sponsors, gets many expensive gifts from them, some that are at home etc
I could add 500 different examples of things like this and while I removed lasry bc they are all on the offense, I get the sense that they are trying to put some sort of wrong doing on me after the audit as a crutch to change things and if I don’t mention things like lasry where they all have issues, I may regret it
But, as Bill points out, even if Hillary wins the White House he’s not done with his personal enrichment schemes charitable work. While he admits that continuing to accept money from foreign leaders might be complicated, he’s quite confident that he can still raise money from “Friends of Bill” here in the U.S.
But Clinton will need something to do during the next four to eight years, and he has a vision for what a resurrected CGI would look like — “if,” he says, “Hillary becomes president.” He says accepting donations from foreign countries would not be possible, but they could work through that. “What we’re going to do,” he says, “is take everything that’s funded by foreign funds and either spin it all to independent foundations that I’m not involved in, or we’re going to make those things independent and let them be taken over by someone else. But in America we should still be able to run a lot of these health programs with just individual contributions, not corporate.”
Yes, we’re also sure there is a substantial amount of money that can be raised from personal donors looking for a little leverage.