A non-profit group that has received favors from the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), including a free membership that entitled its officials to rub elbows with world leaders, issued its top rating Thursday for the Clinton Foundation.
Charity Navigator awarded the Clinton Foundation four-stars based on an rating algorithm that scored the controversial non-profit with a 97.5 on financial issues and 93 on accountability and transparency. The new rating represented a boost for the foundation, as Charity Navigator had previously put it on its watch list due to concerns about its finances and transparency.
But the four-star rating had hardly been announced before the Associated Press reported that Charity Navigator was a member of the CGI from 2012 to 2014. The CGI is one of the Clinton Foundation’s best-known programs, as it regularly convenes glittering gatherings of celebrities, government officials and philanthropic stars.
The $20,000 CGI membership fee was waived for Charity Navigator, which reported it as an in-kind contribution, according to the AP. The news organization said Charity Navigator chairman Michael Thatcher claimed his group joined CGI “to mingle with world leaders and promote its ratings.”
Charity Navigator consists of 15 full-time employees and one volunteer, according to its 2014 Form 990, the most recently available IRS tax return. The group rates 8,000 charities, but claimed spending only $1,184,718 on program expenses.
The 2014 return also said the group had zero expenditures for information technology or legal expenses, according to Charles Ortel, a Wall Street financial analyst who has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for more than a year.
Getting four stars from an independent ratings group would normally be great news for a tax-exempt non-profit that spends more than $300 million annually, but not the Clinton Foundation. It has been the subject of a continuous series of sensational media exposes in recent months.
Most recently, AP reported that 85 of 154 non-government people who met with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were Clinton Foundation donors, contributing more than $156 million. A Clinton spokesman criticized the AP study for not including her meetings with government officials and diplomats.
One of the meetings highlighted by AP was with Muhammad Grameen, who was ousted as managing director of the Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank amid serious allegations of financial abuses. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported April 17 that Clinton repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, pressured Bangladesh officials not to oust Grameen.
The foundation is also the focus of investigations by the FBI in conjunction with three U.S. Attorneys. TheDCNF reported Aug. 11, that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which specializes in exposing and prosecuting financial fraud and other white-collar crimes, leads the probe.
In addition, TheDCNF reported July 26, that the IRS has initiated an investigation of the foundation.
Originally founded on behalf of former President Bill Clinton in 1997 to build and operate his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., the foundation quickly expanded to solicit donations from foreign governments, international agencies and wealthy individuals.
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