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By Anthony Cave July 11, 2016

Did Hillary Clinton take money from countries that treat women, gays poorly?

Donald Trump continues to attack Hillary Clinton on everything from campaign spending to ISIS.

At a rally in Phoenix, he accused her of taking money from countries that have a poor rapport with women and gay people.

"She's been given tens of millions of dollars by countries that treat women horribly," Trump said June 18. "And countries that kill gays, they kill gays, they push them off of buildings."

Trump, whose campaign did not return a request for comment, seems to be referencing donations given to the Clinton Foundation. Trump has referenced her foundation ties in the past, saying she needs to "return the $25 million" Saudi Arabia gave the foundation.

The William J. Clinton Foundation was incorporated in 1997. The foundation agreed to disclose its donors when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state in 2009.

We wondered whether the Clintons’ donor list holds up to Trump’s claim.

But first, it is important to note that political candidates cannot take money from foreign entities. 

"The prohibition in the Federal Election Campaign Act is against candidates or political committees soliciting, accepting or receiving contributions from foreign nationals, not only governments," said Michael Malbin, a political science professor at the University at Albany.

Hillary Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin also noted that the former first lady played no role in the foundation while she was secretary of state.

"Further, she did not blink before standing up to countries that oppressed their people and denied them of their rights, from LGBT rights to women's rights," Schwerin said.

Nonetheless. looking at the Clinton Foundation’s donor list, Saudi Arabia gave between $10 million and $25 million. But the foundation reported the Saudi money in December 2008, and the amount hasn’t changed since. Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra pointed out that Saudi Arabia did not give to the foundation while Secretary Clinton was at the State Department.

The foundation has also taken between $1 million and $5 million each from United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. As The Wall Street Journal reported, several of these donations came in 2014, after Clinton's tenure at the State Department.

We've fact-checked a similar claim before when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in April 2015 that Clinton took money from the kings of "Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Oman and Yemen." Every country except Yemen has contributed to the Clinton Foundation, but Preibus' claim made it seem like Clinton herself took the money. We rated it Half True

Women’s rights

Human Rights Watch tracks how women are treated in each of these countries.

In Saudi Arabia, a woman needs "male guardian" approval on everything from obtaining a passport to seeking higher education. They also have no divorce rights.

The same male approval is needed for marriage in United Arab Emirates, plus laws there also allow a husband to assault his wife and children.

In Qatar, marital rape is permitted. Women need a male guardian to approve a marriage contract, and one law specifies that a wife must obey her husband.

And in Oman, Human Rights Watch notes that while there is a nondiscrimination law, women still face discrimination when it comes to domestic issues such as child custody and divorce.

Gay rights

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, all sex outside of marriage, including same-sex intercourse, in Saudi Arabia is punishable by death.

For a married man, the penalty is death by stoning. An unmarried man faces 100 blows of a whip.

In Qatar, any sexual act outside of marriage is punishable by death.

The United Arab Emirates also bans sex outside of marriage, and the death penalty could apply to consensual "same-sex relations."

As for Oman, the country punishes same-sex acts by up to three years in prison.

As for Trump's claim that these countries are throwing gay people "off of buildings," he may be referring to the Islamic State. There is evidence that ISIS has engaged in these acts, but in Syria. 

Executions in Saudi Arabia specifically have increased recently, but specific convictions, and whether are they related to homosexuality, are hard to measure. 

Not Clinton directly

Experts we spoke with questioned whether the donations to the foundation are directly attributable to Hillary Clinton.

Indiana University public affairs professor emeritus Leslie Lenkowsky said Trump’s claim is hyperbolic.

"These were not donations to Secretary Clinton as such, but to an organization with which she was closely involved (when not in office or seeking it), including serving as a director," Lenkowsky said.

According to Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor at Ohio State University, nonprofits often have to consider donors’ actions when they give money. The stakes are usually higher when the nonprofit involves a political figure.

"These are gifts not to Clinton herself but to the foundation that shares her name," he said.

The United States remains allies with some of these countries, such as Saudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates and Qatar, despite their poor record with human rights.

Our ruling

Trump said that Hillary Clinton has "been given tens of millions of dollars by countries that treat women horribly...and countries that kill gays."

Trump's comment oversimplifies donations to the Clinton Foundation to make a quick attack against his Democratic rival. He makes it sound as if Clinton personally received money from foreign governments with poor records on human rights. But political candidates cannot accept donations from foreign governments.

However, several countries with harsh rules for women and that kill gays have contributed to the Clinton Foundation both before and after her tenure at the State Department. 

We rate Trump’s claim Half True.

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Half True
Hillary Clinton has been given tens of millions of dollars by countries that "treat women horribly ... and countries that kill gays."
At at Phoenix rally
Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our Sources

ABC15, "FULL SPEECH: Trump holds rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum," June 18, 2016

PolitiFact, "Conservative group claims Hillary Clinton’s foundation took millions from foreign governments," Feb. 26, 2015

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking donations to the Clinton Foundation," July 7, 2016

Clinton Foundation, "Contributor and grantor information," accessed July 5, 2016

Internal Revenue Service, "Application for Recognition of Exemption," accessed July 11, 2016 

Human Rights Watch, "World Report 2015," accessed July 5, 2016

Associated Press, "Islamic State group targets gays with brutal public killings," June 13, 2016 

BBC News, "Saudi Arabia carrying out 'unprecedents wave' of executions," Dec. 4, 2015 

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, "State-sponsored homophobia," accessed July 5, 2016

The Washington Post, "Here are 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death," June 13, 2016

The Washington Post, "Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept.," Feb. 25, 2015

The Wall Street Journal, "Foreign government gifts to Clinton Foundation on the rise," Feb. 17, 2015

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, "UAE - US relations," accessed July 6, 2016

U.S. State Department, "U.S. relations with Qatar," Aug. 26, 2014

Interview with Hillary Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin, June 27, 2016

Interview with Indiana University public affairs professor emeritus Leslie Lenkowsky, June 27, 2016

Interview with Ohio State University accounting professor Brian Mittendorf, June 27, 2016

Interview with International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association spokeswoman Daniele Paletta, July 1, 2016

Interview with Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra, July 6, 2016

Interview with University at Albany political science professor Michael Malbin, July 7, 2016

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Did Hillary Clinton take money from countries that treat women, gays poorly?

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