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WIKILEAKS: Clinton Charity’s Lawyer Said It Ran ‘Like A Political Operation’

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor
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A blistering internal review of the Clinton Foundation said in 2008 that the former president’s controversial nonprofit was managed “like a political operation” with proliferating bureaucratic hurdles as opposed to a “sustainable corporation.”

The foundation “operates more like a political operation … as opposed to a professional, strategic, and sustainable corporation committed to advancing its overall mission,” Clinton Foundation attorney Kumiki Gibson said in a report on her review in November 2008. (RELATED: ‘Must Act Immediately’: Clinton Charity Lawyer Told Execs They Were Breaking The Law)

That structure “may not be a problem” while the foundation can rely on Clinton’s star power for support, Gibson said in her review, but it likely become an issue after the former president “is no longer involved, and the foundation has to rise and/or fall on its own name and work only.”

Gibson also warned the foundation’s leadership that funders increasingly “are demanding that not-for-profits function with the same level of discipline, professionalism, and transparency as for-profit companies.”

Gibson’s 2008 report was included as an attachment to a 2011 email thread among long-time Clinton insiders Cheryl Mills and John Podesta that Wikileaks made public Saturday. At the time, Mills was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff.

It was also, according to Gibson, “unclear whether the president wants the foundation to exist beyond his personal involvement,” the review said. Gibson recommended that the foundation’s board and CEO “address this question head-on with the president.”

Without the former president, Gibson said the foundation would be in jeopardy, noting that “it has major deficiencies in each of the fundamental areas.  Each of these deficiencies, standing alone, threatens the effectiveness of the foundation in the short and long term. When combined, as currently the case, they threaten its very existence (absent the President’s involvement).”

At least some of the Clinton Foundation officials interviewed by Gibson during her review told her they believe the charity’s “structure, rules and processes result in a bureaucracy that slows down an organization. While the foundation appears to be nimble and quick in response to opportunities and to problems, it is not very good at planning.”

The nonprofit created “a culture that under-values structure” and a “lack of planning” that can “adversely affect the foundation’s effectiveness, efficiencies and reputation,” Gibson said.

“Absent a clearer structure and greater clarity about that structure, the foundation will continue to be faced with reputational and legal challenges, and with confusion, inefficiencies, and waste,” she continued.

“No matter what the leadership decides about the larger, over-arching question[of Clinton’s continued presence], it must act immediately to bring the foundation into compliance with the law and standards that govern not-for-profits …,” she added.

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