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ICYMI: Experts Poke Holes In Clinton Foundation's Promised Donor Ban

- September 1, 2016

Excerpts from The Hill

By: Jonathan Swan
Thursday, September 1, 2016

“Watchdog groups are poking holes into former President Bill Clinton's promise that his family’s foundation will stop taking foreign and corporate cash if his wife wins the presidency.

“They say it would be relatively easy for foreign governments or individuals to funnel cash into the foundation during a Hillary Clinton presidency without the American public ever learning of the foreign influence — despite the former president’s promises outlined in an August 22 open letter published on the Clinton Foundation's website.

“Karen Hobert Flynn, the president of the non-partisan watchdog Common Cause, said there were ‘lots of different ways’ that untraceable foreign money could reach the Clinton Foundation under the current broad terms of Bill Clinton’s promise.

“She said it can be difficult to determine who is donating to a limited liability corporation or another partnership, and that the terms of the open letter would allow such an entity to donate to the Clinton Foundation.

“'You could have some kind of LLC or other partnership where it isn’t even clear who the donors are,’ Flynn said.

“As an example, she pointed to the Canadian-registered charity, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which sent more than $25 million of largely untraceable money to the Clinton Foundation before being pressured into revealing some of its donors.

“While Bill Clinton’s proposal would stop a foreign-registered entity from transferring largely untraceable money as CGEP did, there’s nothing in his proposal to stop a foreign government or individual from giving millions of dollars to a U.S.-registered foundation, which could then transfer that cash on to the Clinton Foundation.

“The Clinton Foundation, which did not respond to questions for this article, would not say whether it would demand that its U.S.-based donors disclose the sources of their income.

“It’s equally unclear how the Clinton Foundation plans to enforce its latest promises.

“Watchdogs recall that the Clinton Foundation made sweeping written promises about transparency to the Obama administration in late 2008 before Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State.

“But the foundation failed to make good on a number of its pledges, including accepting, and not disclosing, $2.35 million from a family foundation linked to a uranium company that had sensitive and lucrative business before Clinton's State Department.

“An honor system isn’t going to cut it if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, these watchdogs say.

“The Clinton Foundation did not answer questions about what oversight or enforcement mechanisms it would put in place should Clinton win in November. And Bill Clinton provided no details in his open letter about how his foreign and corporate ban would be enforced.

“Nor would the foundation say whether it would consider outsourcing this oversight role to an independent authority.

“Another hole in Bill Clinton’s foreign and corporate ban is the uncertainty over whether the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) — an affiliated but legally separate entity that takes millions of dollars of foreign money — is going to continue taking foreign and corporate donations.

“If CHAI keeps taking foreign cash, it could be a magnet for foreign governments or individuals hoping to curry favor with the Clintons.

“Finally, there remains the question of the Clinton family’s continued involvement in the foundation.

“And it’s here that what has been left unsaid is just as important as what has been promised.

“'Bill Clinton’s statement acknowledges ethics issues with foundation contributions, but when parsed, his solutions sound a lot like it depends on what the definition of “is” is,’ said Charles Spies, a top Republican campaign finance lawyer.

“'The loopholes of multiple foundations and Chelsea’s continued involvement are enough to subsume meaningful restrictions.’

“With Chelsea Clinton remaining on the Clinton Foundation board and likely allowed to keep raising money while her mother is president — her spokeswoman declined to respond when asked whether Chelsea Clinton would be allowed to continue fundraising — the American public can have little confidence that the Clinton family is disentangled, said Flynn…”

Read the full article here

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