EXCLUSIVE: House Letter Calls Clinton Foundation ‘Lawless’
A new congressional letter circulating among lawmakers charges the William, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is a “lawless, ‘Pay-to-Play’ enterprise that has been operating under a cloak of philanthropy for years.”
The letter, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, is authored by Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn who plans to send it to FBI Director James Comey, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen and Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
The letter calls upon the three agencies to launch a “public corruption” investigation into the ties between Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary Clinton’s policies as secretary of state.
The letter says there is a “pattern of dealing that personally enriched the Clintons at the expense of American foreign policy.”
Comey declined last week in testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to address reports that the FBI is continuing a second, ongoing FBI investigation into ties between Clinton Foundation donors and Clinton’s role as secretary of state.
Comey was asked if there were any other FBI investigations that touched on the Clinton Foundation. He deflected the question, saying he was “not going to comment on the existence or nonexistence of any other investigations.”
Blackburn told TheDCNF Monday that “it’s my hope that they will investigate this and look at what is going on with that foundation.”
Blackburn also raised questions about the legality of all of the Clinton Foundation’s overseas operations. Originally, the IRS approved the foundation as a domestic public charity to finance and build Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Tennessee Republican said she wants “to look at their IRS paperwork to see if they have ever amended it to include having activity outside of the United States.”
Charles Ortel, a Wall Street investor who has served as a trustee to two public charities, told TheDCNF there appears to be no evidence the IRS ever approved the new foreign-directed mission for the foundation.
“I find no evidence in the public domain that it was ever authorized to engage in any other activity other than as a Presidential Library,” Ortel said. He described the foundation as “an illegally constructed front masquerading as a charity.”
Ortel said no one has ever been able to untangle the hundreds of millions of dollars obtained by the foundation, including donations from billionaire hedge fund managers, African mine operators, Irish telecom moguls, and Middle Eastern Sheiks.
“You don’t have an ability, in a straight-forward way, to go year-by-year and understand who may have been profiting from the foundation,” Ortel said.
Blackburn also raised concerns about the Clintons’ deals with the for-profit education giant Laureate Education and a uranium mining company called Uranium One.
Laureate paid Bill Clinton $16.5 million for a part-time job as “honorary chancellor” beginning in 2010, a year after Hillary Clinton joined the Department of State. Laureate also contributed between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the foundation’s web site.
During that same time, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $55 million to the International Youth Foundation, a unit run by David Becker, Laureate’s founder. The USAID is part of the State Department.
Blackburn’s letter claimed the financial transactions created “an appearance that millions of dollars in taxpayer money was channeled to IYF by Secretary Clinton’s State Department as a kickback for her husband’s generous contract as an honorary Laureate chancellor.”
During Clinton’s tenure as the chief U.S. diplomat, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a unit of the World Bank, invested $200 million in equity in Laureate. The IFC president, Jim Youg Kim, is a regular participant in Clinton Global Initiative meetings chaired by Bill Clinton.
Among her duties as secretary of state, Clinton also had a role in the World Bank, which is largely financed with U.S. funds.
Blackburn questioned a controversial Hillary Clinton decision permitting Russia to obtain a controlling stake in a U.S. uranium company after an effort led by Ian Teller, a major Clinton Foundation donor, and Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra, a long-time friend of Bill Clinton.
Uranium One “donated $2.35 million to the Foundation through several donations, which the foundation failed to report, as the Russian’s gained control of Uranium One from 2009-2013,” Blackburn said.
Teller’s Fernwood Foundation additionally donated more than $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer.
Blackburn said “Secretary Clinton was also one of several administration officials who approved the sale of the uranium.”
Giustra made a personal $100 million “commitment” to the Clinton Foundation and he established a separate initiative with Bill Clinton within the foundation called the “Clinton-Giustra Enterprise Partnership” that the Blackburn letter strongly criticized.
“The intersection of foundation business, official action taken by Secretary Clinton, and a large payment to President Clinton from an interested party once again smacks of a ‘Pay to Play’ pattern of dealing that personally enriched the Clintons at the expense of American foreign policy,” the letter said.
Earlier this year, Blackbrun sent congressional letters about the foundation to the IRS and the FTC. The FTC responded vaguely to Blackburn without any commitment to action, while the IRS sent an unsigned form letter to her.
The IRS “didn’t take the request seriously,” she told TheDCNF. Fifty-one House colleagues signed the IRS letter.
Blackburn said her interest in the Clinton Foundation arose after the FTC, which she oversees in Congress, shut down four “sham charities” in Knoxville. “Right about the same time, things started to come to light about the Clinton Foundation and questions began to be raised,” she said.
Blackburn noted that Tennessee is the headquarters of many mainstream religions with associated public charities. “In my district, you have a lot of religious organizations: the Baptists, the Methodists, the Church of Christ, the AME, different religious organizations have their headquarters in Nashville,” she said.
“My constituents started asking me, what’s going on with the Clinton Foundation,” Blackburn added.
Prior to joining Congress Blackburn was the chairman of five nonprofit volunteer organizations in Tennessee and a board member of the Arthritis Foundation and the “Friends of Children’s Hospital.” She resigned all her positions after her election to Congress.
Blackburn also is a rising star within House Republican circles, as she was appointed by House GOP leaders to chair the House Select Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives that investigated Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from unborn fetuses.
A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment on the Blackburn letter.
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