When one of the most recognizable nonprofits in the world loses 75% of its contributions over a four-year period, there are typically investigatory reports written into what has gone wrong. That isn’t the case with the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation received $62.9 million in 2016 but only $16.3 million in 2020, and very few people seem to have noticed.
That is because most Beltway insiders know the Clinton Foundation’s primary purpose: to serve as a platform for Hillary Clinton’s political operation while lining the Clintons’ pockets by trading influence for money. That is why donations spiked when Hillary was secretary of state and most of the world thought she was destined to become president — and why they cratered after she lost.
Kevin Thurm, the CEO of the Clinton Foundation, tried to play off the 2020 decline off as pandemic-related. In a letter, he wrote that 2020 “was a difficult year for philanthropy. Across the sector, resources were stretched thinly and fundraising activities were impacted.” This argument doesn’t explain the tens of millions the Foundation lost between 2016 and 2019 and ignores that charitable giving was up by 5.1% in America last year.
Of course, an objective observer easily understands the real reason the Clinton Foundation experienced such a sharp decline in contributions since 2016. The Foundation is an influence-peddling scheme, and the Clintons’ influence has waned. Even Obama understood the scheme. When President Obama nominated Hillary Clinton in 2009 to serve as secretary of state, she agreed to a strict memorandum of understanding to wall off the Foundation from conflicts of interest with the State Department. As Judicial Watch uncovered, the Clinton team immediately violated this agreement by using the Clinton State Department to help Clinton Foundation donors.
The Clintons also agreed that the State Department would approve Bill Clinton’s speeches. Judicial Watch investigations (in partnership with the Daily Caller) uncovered that this agreement translated into the Clinton State Department rubber-stamping virtually all of Bill Clinton’s 215 speeches, which raked in $48 million in speaking fees while his wife was secretary of state. These speeches included government-controlled entities in China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. State Department memos approving his speeches were routinely sent to Cheryl Mills, who was Hillary Clinton’s senior counsel and chief of staff – and a former Foundation board member!
The former president blurred ethical lines, routinely mixing diplomacy and Clinton Foundation fundraising. He praised Colombian president Manuel Santos’s efforts to reach out to terrorist group FARC shortly after playing golf with the president as part of a fundraising effort. In another email exchange, a Clinton Foundation official briefed the State Department on Clinton’s trip to Myanmar and his efforts to promote the Clinton Foundation.
If this wasn’t sleazy enough, emails reveal that the Clinton Foundation was influencing State Department decisions. Records show that Huma Abedin, Secretary Clinton’s close friend and State Department official, often served as a conduit between Secretary Clinton and top donors. In one case, Clinton declined to meet with Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, but after Doug Band from the Clinton Foundation emailed Abedin, the Crown Prince ended up on Clinton’s schedule. Band also attempted to get a visa for an English soccer player with a criminal charge because Casey Wasserman, a major Foundation donor, wanted the visa approved. Similarly, Band pushed Foggy Bottom to help Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, because Chagoury, who had donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, was “key guy there [Lebanon] and to us.”
In another instance, Band pushed Abedin to make a particular hire, arguing that it was “important to take care of [Redacted].” Abedin assured Band that “Personnel has been sending him options.” This revelation of an outside donor pushing for a political appointment through a nonprofit might seem shocking, but the Justice Department had little interest in this influence peddling scheme.
Maybe the most egregious instance of Clinton corruption is the Uranium One deal. Bill Clinton reportedly helped his billionaire pal Frank Giustra acquire uranium mining rights from the Kazakhstani dictator in the mid-2000s. Giustra then gave tens of millions to the Clinton Foundation. In 2009, when it appeared the Kazakhstani government might seize the uranium, Secretary Clinton helped approve a deal that allowed a Russian state-owned company to take over part of the company, even though she had previously opposed foreign companies controlling vital U.S. resources. Unsurprisingly, those involved in this deal donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, which tried to hide the donations.
The collapse of the Clinton Foundation might shock outsiders, but it is no surprise to those who have watched the Clintons’ machinations for years. The Foundation existed as a way for the Clintons to peddle their connections and power in exchange for money. When it became clear they’d never hold power again, donors predictably turned off the cash spigot.
But the grift game never stops, as the Obama Foundation is now on the scene. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just gave the Obama Foundation a $100 million gift. As the Clinton money machine declines, the Obama machine rises!
Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog.