The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month, the New York Post reports. Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofits, refused to rate the Clinton Foundation because its “atypical business model . . . doesn’t meet our criteria.” Instead, it placed the Foundation on its “watch list,” which warns potential donors about investing in problematic charities.
The Clinton Foundation joins Al Sharpton’s troubled National Action Network on Charity Navigator’s list. It seems appropriate that two great con artists, Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton, should be thus be joined.
Sharpton’s outfit reportedly made the list because it didn’t pay payroll taxes for several years. The Clinton Foundation’s problems run deeper. According to the Post, it took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.
Much of the Foundation’s money goes to travel ($8.5 million in 2013); conferences, conventions and meetings ($9.2 million); and payroll and employee benefits ($30 million). Ten executives received salaries of more than $100,000 in 2013. Eric Braverman, a friend of Chelsea Clinton, was paid nearly $275,000 in salary, benefits, and a housing allowance for just five months’ work as CEO that year.
Bill Allison is a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group once run by prominent leftist Zephyr Teachout. In Allison’s view, “it seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”
It’s important to note that the Clinton Foundation’s status as a problematic charity is distinct from the “Clinton cash” issue that Peter Schweizer and others have highlighted. “Clinton cash” focuses on the fundraising methods used by the Clintons. Specifically, there are substantial allegations that they raise money in part because nations and wealthy individuals hope to influence U.S. policy through their donations, and very possibly have succeeded in doing so.
The problem flagged by Charity Navigator and other watchdogs focuses on what the Clinton Foundation does with the money it raises (whether ethically or not). The Foundation’s profligacy and failure to spend a significant percentage of its funds on its alleged mission would be of concern even if there were no ethical problems associated with the Clintons’ fundraising.
The two sets of problems are related, however. Both stem from the same greed, sense of entitlement, and arrogance. In this respect, both are related to a host of Clinton scandals dating back to Whitewater.