Monday, May 4, 2015

Common Cause Urges Independent Audit of Donations to Clinton Foundation

Common Cause "citing concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of hidden overseas donors... called on presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Clinton Foundation... to commission an independent (audit for a)... thorough review of all large donations to the foundation and to release the results. ..."  Common Cause, moreover, stated that "the foundation should stop accepting donations from foreign governments and foreign corporations... .  Common Cause is a nonpartisan...  organization."  The Clinton Foundation is a charitable foundation.  "Though Mrs. Clinton has severed ties with the foundation, her husband and daughter remain active in its operations."

Common Cause, in support of its requests, explained that a "report in... New York Times indicates that the Clinton Foundation violated an agreement to identify all of its donors. ...  The Clinton Foundation and any other foundations tied to a candidate or his or her family provide one more way for potential donors to gain access and curry favor from candidates - without the public knowing about it.  That lack of transparency creates a clear risk of undue influence and conflicts of interest. ..."  Common Cause pointed out that "Six years ago, at Mrs. Clinton's confirmation hearing for her appointment as secretary of state, then-Sen. Dick Lugar observed that 'that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state.'  He was right, and his remarks remain relevant today as Mrs. Clinton seeks the presidency."[1]

Several  editorials in the Washington Post have commented on Common Cause's request for an audit, and related issues.[2]  An editorial by Michael Gerson, noted in support of Common Cause, that "Common Cause, not credibly part of a right-wing conspiracy, has called for an independent audit.  The Clinton Foundation has already been forced to refile five years of tax returns that did not fully disclose grant money."  Furthermore, although Hillary Clinton was warned during her confirmation hearing about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, while she "was secretary of state, her husband was collecting millions in undisclosed donations from foreign... interests with business before the State Department."  For example, "the Russian atomic energy agency gained control of a good portion of the American uranium supply."  This required the approval of the State Department.  During this process, individuals that would benefit from the transaction donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, and former president Clinton was paid $500,000 to give a talk in Moscow.  "Though there is no evidence of a quid pro quo, on the merits the deal was bad for U.S.  interests".  The donors, moreover, no doubt "thought they were gaining access and a vague sort of influence during a high-stakes, politically sensitive business takeover."  "The murky Clinton milieu of donations here and speaking engagements there..." raise "legitimate doubts about her judgment."

By James Keats

[1] Common Cause Urges Independent Audit of Donations to Clinton Foundation.  (click on 'Press Releases').
[2] The Baggage Hillary Clinton Brings.; Yet Again, the Clintons Skate Close to the Line on Ethics. (insert title of editorial in "search" block).

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