- Assets: $181,936,614 (2009)
- Grants Received: $242,377,043 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $4,046,086 (2009)
The William J. Clinton Foundation (WCF) was established by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2001 “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.” Claiming to be politically nonpartisan, the foundation administers several major programs, of which the best-known is the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
Incorporated in 2005 as an independent nonprofit, CGI aims to persuade wealthy businesspeople to pledge money to Clinton Foundation programs. Former World Wildlife Fund president David Sandalow, who served as a senior environmental official in the Clinton administration, chairs the CGI Working Group. The Working Group’s advisory board is composed of such luminaries as Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke; President Clinton's former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carl Browner; Pew Center on Global Climate Change president Eileen Claussen; Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp; and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, an ethanol advocate who supported California’s failed Proposition 87, which would have imposed new taxes on that state’s oil producers. Other key CGI working groups are headed by senior fellows at the Center for American Progress who previously worked for the Clinton administration: Clinton economic advisor Gene Sperling chairs the CGI Education Working Group; Clinton National Security Council staffer Gayle Smith chairs the CGI Poverty-Alleviation Working Group; and Thomas Kalil, deputy director of Clinton's National Economic Council, chairs the CGI Global Health Working Group.
CGI hosts annual Clinton Global Summits where affluent business moguls who pay $15,000 apiece to attend, pledge money to CGI programs. Among those who attended in 2007 were high-ranking officials of Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Duke Energy, Starbucks, the Carnegie Corporation, and the NoVo Foundation. Also on hand were former Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Evangelical Environmental Network president Jim Ball, actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and media giants Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner. At this 2007 Summit, Bill Clinton advocated a form of Cap-and-Trade that would raise energy prices while purportedly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Some CGI activities, such as this greenhouse-gas initiative, are of a highly political nature. Others, however, are not politicized – particularly those that focus their philanthropy on impoverished peoples in Africa.
At the 2009 Clinton Global Summit, attendees included Barack Obama, Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Wangari Maathai, and actors Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
Additional major initiatives of the Clinton Foundation include the following:
A) The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): Established in 2002 as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, this program is dedicated to “expanding access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ... in developing countries.” In its earliest months, WCF brokered price cuts by generic drug producers of AIDS drugs, organizing a cooperative that enabled more than 70 poor nations to purchase those medicines at discounted rates.
B) Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI): Created in 2006 “to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change,” CCI is founded on the premise that human industrial activity, by emitting greenhouse gases (GHG), causes global warming. To address this problem, CCI has created such projects as energy retrofits for homes and businesses, low-GHG-emitting outdoor lighting, and improved waste management for American cities. CCI also promotes clean-energy alternatives to fossil fuels, which it says “account for about 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.” Moreover, CCI seeks to curtail “deforestation in tropical countries,” which it calls “a major contributor to climate change.”
C) Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Asserting that “in the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled and are now at epidemic rates,” this initiative supports a Healthy Schools Program that encourages schools to stock their vending machines with non-fattening foods; urges students to “bring in healthy snacks for school parties”; and exhorts parents to “work with your child’s school to organize 'healthy' fundraisers like walk-a-thons.”
D) Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative (CEOI): This Initiative was established in 2002 “to reduce economic inequity and accelerate economic progress in the United States by helping individuals become more financially stable and businesses in underserved communities to grow.” CEOI's Entrepreneurship Program “promotes business-to-business public service, helping entrepreneurs reach higher levels of success”; the Financial Mainstream Program “helps people access lower-cost, safer financial services, and the support they need to develop and sustain good financial habits.”
E) Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI): At the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, Scottish philanthropist Tom Hunter, the wealthiest man in Scotland, committed “to invest $100 million over ten years to encourage sustainable economic growth in the developing world” – principally Africa. Specifically, CHDI “works to increase farmers’ access to fertilizer, seeds, irrigation, and other farming inputs, and to identify and develop new markets for agricultural outputs.”
F) Clinton-Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI): Established in 2007 by Bill Clinton and mining/film magnate Frank Giustra, this program “focuses on alleviating poverty in the developing world through market-driven development that creates jobs and increases incomes, and by strengthening factors that enable economic growth such as health and education.” CGSGI has begun work in Colombia and Peru to strengthen child nutrition, expand access to health care, and support entrepreneurship.”
The Clinton Foundation has collected many millions of dollars in donations to fund the Clinton Presidential Library. At least 57 separate donors gave $1 million or more. Among these were Hollywood director-producer Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw; movie producer Stephen Bing; insurance magnate Peter Lewis; and the Soros Foundation, which is the European arm of George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Another notable donor was Denise Rich -- ex-wife of Marc Rich, a billionaire fugitive who had fled to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for 51 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion, and illegal oil transactions with Iran; Mrs. Rich gave the foundation $450,000.
As of December 2008, the Clinton Foundation had received between $1 million and $5 million from entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist Issam Fares, a former deputy prime minister Lebanon. In the United States, Fares is best known as the CEO of the Wedge Foundation, a Houston-based investment firm. In his native Lebanon, however, Fares may be better known as an outspoken supporter of Hezbollah and an apologist for the Syrian dictatorship’s previous military occupation of his country. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, Fares insisted that “it is a mistake to make a comparison between the al-Qaeda network” and Hezbollah. The latter was actually a “resistance party fighting the Israeli occupation,” Fares informed Agence France-Presse, explaining that “Hezbollah did not carry out any resistance operation against American interests in Lebanon or abroad and did not target civilians in its resistance activities as happened on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center.”
This was not a rare unguarded moment for the Lebanese politician. During a September 2004 address to the United Nations, Fares voiced support for Hezbollah on an international stage, describing the terror group as a “national resistance movement.” “It is…the policy of Lebanon to support the National Resistance Movement which has played an important role in forcing Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon,” Fares said. In the same speech, Fares condemned “Israeli forces” for their presence on the Lebanon’s border with the Golan Heights, while managing to excuse Syria’s far more brutal occupation of Lebanon. “There are Syrian forces in Lebanon,” Fares acknowledged. But he insisted that “these forces are on our territory upon the request of the Lebanese government” and that “Lebanon considers the presence of these troops dependent on security conditions in the region.” Fares’s stint as deputy prime minister ended the following year, with the fall of the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami; Syria’s military occupation ended shortly thereafter. Fares’s services to the Syrian regime have not gone unnoticed. He has received the Syrian decoration of St. Ephrem, promoting him to the honorary rank of commander.
One of the Clinton Foundation’s largest donors is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Disclosure forms indicate that of all government donors, the Saudi regime was the most generous, contributing between $10 and $25 million to the president’s foundation. Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee this April, Treasury undersecretary Stuart Levey observed that “Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world.” Besides topping the list of terror-sponsoring states, Saudi Arabia continues to rank at the bottom by almost every measure of political freedom. A 2008 Freedom House survey placed Saudi Arabia among the least free countries in the world, just a notch above Chinese-occupied Tibet and the war-torn Russian puppet state of Chechnya. The key Clinton foundation contributor also has the dubious distinction of being one of only seven countries in the world that punishes homosexuality by death.
Direct contributions are just one source of financing that the foundation draws from the Saudi government. The foundation has also received between $1 million and $5 million from the pro-Saudi advocacy group, Friends of Saudi Arabia (FSA). Launched in 2005 and supported by the Saudi royal family, the group acts as a kind of public relations agency, protesting what it considers the country’s unfair portrayal in the U.S. and otherwise working to “dispel misconceptions” about the kingdom. Among these supposed “misconceptions” is Saudi Arabia’s association with terrorism. Prior the release of the 2007 film “The Kingdom,” for example, FSA executive director Michael Saba wrote a letter to the chairman of Universal Studios expressing his concern “that the movie might present negative stereotypes about the people of Saudi Arabia.”
Given his Saudi sponsors, it comes as no surprise that Saba himself is an anti-Israel zealot and conspiracy theorist. His 1984 book, The Armageddon Network, alleges widespread Israeli espionage at the highest level of the U.S. government, complete with a Justice Department cover-up. Today, Saba continues to see a hidden Israeli hand in international affairs. Rehearsing a favorite theme in 2004, he claimed – on the basis of no evidence whatsoever – that Israeli interrogators played a role in the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
In the company of fellow Gulf States Oman, Kuwait and Qatar, the United Arab Emirates is another rich source of the Clinton Foundation’s funds. Thus the president’s group has received between $1 million and $5 million from the Dubai Foundation. Headed by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the foundation’s goals include improving education and creating jobs in the Middle East. But Sheikh Maktoum’s interests frequently run in a very different direction. In the past, the Sheikh has reportedly donated at least 1 million United Arab Emirate (UAE) dirhams (approximately $270,000 U.S.) to “the families of the Palestinian martyrs” – that is, Palestinian terrorists killed in action. In November of 2006, the sheikh sponsored a concert by Lebanese songstress Julia Bourtos in honor of “Lebanese Martyrs” in Hezbollah.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who served as president of the United Arab Emirates from 1971-2004, is just one of the Clinton Foundation’s prominent supporters in Dubai. The foundation has also received between $1 million and $5 million from the Zayed family, the UAE’s Abu Dhabi-based royal family. That is not, however, the family’s most famous philanthropic outlet – a description more fitting for the now-defunct Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up. Founded in 1999 and funded by Abu Dhabi’s later ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the center was intended to serve as a kind of “think-tank” for the Arab world. Instead, the center became a notorious platform for anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and supporters of terrorism. Typical of the center’s activities was an October 11, 2001, report titled “The Zionist Movement and Its Animosity to Jews” that likened Zionism to Nazism.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe – who served as manager and chief fundraiser of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign – sits on WCF's board of directors and is one of its leading fundraisers. WCF chief executive officer Bruce Lindsey was a senior advisor in the Bill Clinton White House. And WCF board member Cheryl Mills served not only as deputy White House counsel in the Clinton administration, but also as general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
In January 2009, the Washington Times reported that a secret party paid an excessive sum for stock donated to the foundation:
Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation, despite identifying more than 200,000 of its donors in recent weeks, will not say who paid it windfall prices for stock in a struggling Internet firm with links to the Chinese government.
The William J. Clinton Foundation has identified donors and promised unusual transparency in order to reassure critics who fear the foundation could become the object of largesse from foreign interests seeking to influence his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton, a former Democratic senator from New York, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday as President Obama’s secretary of state and assumed her formal duties with a State Department ceremony Thursday.
However, Mrs. Clinton’s office and the foundation have declined to answer questions about a lucrative 2006 stock transaction, details of which were reported by The Washington Times in March 2008.
The Accoona Corp. donated between $250,001 and $500,000 to Mr. Clinton’s charity after he spoke at the company’s launch in New York in 2004, according to donor information released by the foundation in December. The foundation sold its Accoona stock for $700,000 two years later, according to the charity’s tax return for 2006.
Despite what the tax return suggests, Accoona struggled mightily to turn a profit.
In 2007, Accoona filed a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission reporting more than $60 million in losses during three years. In the same prospectus, it listed the China Daily Information Corp., a subsidiary of China Daily, the official English-language newspaper of the Chinese government, as an official partner and 6.9 percent owner of the company....
While the Clinton Foundation voluntarily disclosed the original donation of the stock, it still is unwilling to say who was willing to pay so much for its holdings in the struggling company.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)