Donors Tied to Foreign Governments Gave Millions to Clinton Foundation

Although the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation agreed not to accept donations from foreign governments while Hillary Rodham Clinton served as secretary of state, it did accept millions of dollars in contributions from private donors with ties to foreign governments, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The foundation has been criticized in recent weeks for accepting contributions from foreign governments while Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that were not reviewed by the State Department, as stipulated in an agreement between the Clintons and the Obama administration. They include a donation from Algeria for Haiti earthquake relief efforts and from Switzerland's Agency for Development and Cooperation to the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Based on the foundation's disclosures, which indicate donation amounts in ranges and without dates, the Journal estimates that contributions to the foundation since 2009 from individuals, foundations, and corporations with ties to foreign governments totaled between $34 million and $68 million. Private donors also provided funding valued at $60 million directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation. Unlike donations from foreign governments, contributions from foreign individuals were not subject to limits or State Department review.

For example, the foundation received at least $8.6 million between 2009 and 2013 from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev, Ukraine, whose founder is married to the daughter of former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma. In 2008, Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals after being introduced to Bill Clinton by Doug Schoen, a pollster who subsequently registered as Pinchuk's lobbyist. While Schoen said his lobbying was unrelated to the donations, the Pinchuk Foundation told the Journal they were intended to help make Ukraine "a successful, free, modern country based on European values" and that if Pinchuk was perceived to be lobbying the State Department, "this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing."

During Rodham Clinton's tenure at State, the foundation also received donations from Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, who is active in Venezuelan politics and has long advocated for the restoration of ties between the U.S. and Cuba, and the foundation of Victor Dahdaleh, a London businessman with ties to Bahrain's state-owned aluminum company. In 2013 and 2014, the foundation also received contributions from Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S., and Rilin Enterprises, part of a privately held Chinese construction, infrastructure, and port management company run by a member of the National People's Congress. The foreign donors reached by the Journal said they contributed to the foundation for charitable, not political, reasons. The foundation has said that if Rodham Clinton runs for president in 2016, it would consider once again restricting donations from foreign governments, while under federal election law, foreign governments, individuals, and corporations would be barred from giving to her campaign.

In response to questions submitted by the Journal, Clinton Foundation spokesperson Craig Minassian noted that the foundation isn't the only philanthropic organization to receive donations from foreign donors. "Like other global charities and nongovernmental organizations," said Minassian, "the Clinton Foundation receives support from individuals all over the world because our programs are improving the lives of millions of people around the globe."

James V. Grimaldi, Rebecca Ballhaus. "Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends." Wall Street Journal 03/19/2015. Rosalind S. Helderman. "Report: Clinton Foundation Says Not All Donations Were Disclosed." Washington Post 03/19/2015.