Clinton Foundation to Restrict Foreign Government Donations

Only days after Hillary Clinton announced that she is running for president, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has issued a series of changes to its policies that will increase transparency with respect to its donors and limit donations from foreign governments.

The foundation, which has faced increased scrutiny in recent months over foreign donations it accepted during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, said that, beginning this summer, it will publish its donor lists quarterly instead of annually, and that contributions from foreign governments will be limited to those from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom — countries that have funded the Clinton Climate Initiative, the Clinton Development Initiative, and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. On the same day the foundation announced the new policies, Clinton announced that she is stepping down from the foundation's board of directors.

In addition, the foundation announced that the Clinton Global Initiative will hold no more CGI International events after its Middle East & Africa conference is held in Morocco in May; that event is being underwritten, in part, by a $1 million donation from a company owned by the Moroccan government. The foundation also said that, other than conference attendance fees — which are as much as $20,000, according to the Wall Street Journal — it would not accept contributions or sponsorships from foreign governments for future CGI events.

"By implementing this new, even stronger and more transparent policy, the Clinton Foundation is reinforcing its commitment to accountability while protecting programs that are improving the lives of millions of people around the world," Clinton Foundation spokesperson Craig Minassian told the Journal.

Designed to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest as Hillary Clinton campaigns for the White House, the changes are unlikely to satisfy the Clintons' critics, some of whom argue the foundation should forgo all donations from foreign governments. While the new rules are more restrictive than those the foundation adopted while Clinton was secretary of state, they neither limit contributions from foreign individuals or corporations nor end the practice of not specifying the amount or date of those donations. Moreover, new rules for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, an affiliated nonprofit that accepted contributions from Switzerland in 2011 and 2012 without a State Department review, as required at the time, are expected to be less restrictive than those adopted by the foundation.

According to the Boston Globe, foreign government donations to CHAI doubled from $26.7 million in 2010 to $55.9 million in 2013. The initiative's CEO and vice chair, Ira Magaziner, told the Globe that Clinton's position as secretary of state played no role in the increase in donations to CHAI during her tenure, which he attributed instead to the quality of the initiative's programs — especially those working to lower the costs of AIDS drugs. "When we're funded for something, it is a very detailed proposal," said Magaziner. "It would be very hard to claim there was an alternative motive on the behalf of a foundation or government giving us money."

"Clinton Foundation Policy Update." Clinton Foundation Press Release 04/15/2015. James V. Grimaldi. "Clinton Foundation to Keep Foreign Donors." Wall Street Journal 04/15/2014. Annie Linskey. "Foreign Grants to Clinton Charities Spur Questions of Transparency." Boston Globe 04/15/2015.