Did the Clinton Foundation keep its promises? A PolitiFact scorecard

The Clinton family wraps up a Clinton Foundation event in 2014.  The foundation's donor list has drawn scrutiny on the campaign trail. (Barbara Kinney / Clinton Global Initiative)
The Clinton family wraps up a Clinton Foundation event in 2014. The foundation's donor list has drawn scrutiny on the campaign trail. (Barbara Kinney / Clinton Global Initiative)

As they say at the ballpark, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. When Hillary Clinton was nominated as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation signed an agreement seeking to avoid conflicts of interest between the foundation and Clinton’s cabinet post.

Now that Hillary is running for president, much has been made about how the Clinton Foundation did, or did not, keep up its end of the bargain.

PolitiFact and PunditFact offer this guide to help you connect the dots. Here are the promises, and whether or not the Clinton Foundation has been shown to have fallen short of its obligations. We’ll go through each of the lapses in more detail.

Promise

Done

Publish contributors as of 2009

Publish annually the names of new contributors

X

Clinton Global Initiative: Incorporate as a separate entity

Clinton Global Initiative: President Clinton will not serve as an officer or director

Clinton Global Initiative: President Clinton will not solicit funds

?

Clinton Global Initiative: President Clinton will no longer send sponsorship letters

Clinton Global Initiative: No contributions from foreign governments

Clinton Global Initiative: No CGI International events outside the United States

Clinton Health Access Initiative: Continue existing HIV/AIDS programs for current foreign country donors

Clinton Health Access Initiative: Report material increases from current donors and new donors, and notify the State Department

X

Climate Initiative, Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, Hunter Development Initiative: Same reporting rules for foreign country donors as CHAI

Publish annually the names of new contributors

We know, thanks to the Washington Post, that the government of Algeria gave $500,000 to the foundation in 2010. The foundation failed to report that until 2015 and did not notify the State Department. At the time, Algeria had hired the K Street lobbyists at Foley Hoag to "promote Algerian-U.S. relations and respect for human rights," according to government filings.

The foundation issued a statement saying all of the money was used for earthquake relief in Haiti, but the State Department was never notified as the two sides had agreed.

"This donation was disclosed publicly on the Clinton Foundation website, however, the State Department should have also been formally informed," the statement said.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "The fact that the process has ... was not followed in this particular incident does not raise concerns with us."

Also at issue are over 1,000 donors who passed their contributions through a sister Canadian foundation that then gave money to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (the new name for the Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative), according to Bloomberg. The foundation reported the revenue from the Canadian foundation, but not the donors to the foundation itself.

Frank Giustra, the Canadian billionaire mining and entertainment financier who originally financed the program that bears his name, issued a statement to rebut suspicions of shady dealings. Giustra said he hosted a gala in March 2008 in Toronto to raise money for his Canadian branch of the Clinton Foundation program.

"Donations were made to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) to allow Canadian residents to receive a charitable tax credit while supporting our efforts," Giustra said. "There were over 1,000 attendees who contributed and collectively pledged over CAD$16,000,000."

Giustra claimed that Canadian law prevents naming donors without their permission.

"We will not share or publicly disclose our donor's information unless we received prior written consent," Giustra said. He added that he would go back to the donors and ask for permission.

However, Bloomberg and the New York Times said that Canadian law might allow disclosure, and that if the donors had wanted to give directly to the Clinton Foundation, they could have and still received the tax benefit of giving to charity.

Clinton Health Access Initiative: Report material increases from current donors and new donors, and notify the State Department

The Clinton Health Access Initiative failed to update its donor lists from 2010 to 2013, as Reuters has reported. During that time, five new countries made donations: Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Swaziland, Sweden and Switzerland (six if you count Flanders, which is part of Belgium).

Two other nations, the United Kingdom and Austria, significantly increased their giving.

The State Department should have been notified in each instance but was not.

Much of the health access initiative’s work focuses on providing drugs and otherwise treating people facing HIV/AIDS, but it also trains local health workers. Asked why it hadn’t updated it donor lists, spokeswoman Maura Daley said, "Not doing so was an oversight which we made up for this year."

Daley gave several reasons for the reporting lapses. The money from Swaziland and Papua New Guinea for small AIDS programs actually originated from other donors, Australia and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Rwanda gave the charity $200,000 in 2012. The initiative considered this a fee for medical work it did in the country, not a grant or donation. Sweden provided millions to train health workers, but Sweden had been a donor before 2009.

Daley said her organization should have told the State Department about Switzerland’s $340,000 donation.

State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach told the Boston Globe, "We would have expected that CHAI identify for the department the foreign country donors that elected to materially increase their donations and new country donors."

Clinton Global Initiative: President Clinton will not solicit funds

Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, the exposé on the Clinton Foundation’s practices, told us he believed Bill Clinton also violated the prohibition on soliciting funds for the Clinton Global Initiative.

Schweizer’s evidence? Clinton continued to be the opening speaker at the start of the initiative’s annual meetings. "He is speaking at a CGI event where money is raised," Schweizer said. "That’s right on the line of soliciting funds in our opinion."

It’s unclear if Clinton’s appearance violates the agreement, however. The memorandum of understanding signed in 2008 stated that "President Clinton will continue in his role as principal host and be identified as CGI's Founding Chairman."

Also, the big money that changes hands at the annual meetings goes directly from donors to doers, like nongovernmental aid groups, and never passes through the coffers of the foundation itself.

Post-State Department

Several news organizations have noted the renewed flow of money from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013. Most recently, Politico noted that a phosphate company owned by the Moroccan monarchy gave $1 million to fund the latest meeting taking place this May in Marrakech. The first international meeting of the global initiative was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But whether the money comes from countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa or South America, the terms of the 2008 agreement don’t apply.

The agreement applied during the time when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. It is fair game to highlight the involvement of foreign governments in the Clinton Foundation and the potential for countries gaining undue influence. However, that is separate from whether the foundation did what it said it would do.

Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said that now that Hillary Clinton is a candidate for president, the meeting in Marrakech will be the last one held on foreign soil for as long as she is running for the White House or becomes its next occupant. Minassian said that donations by foreign governments will also stop.

Our Clinton Foundation scorecard is a work-in-progress. If new revelations emerge, we’ll update it.