The New York Times on Wednesday published a scathing critique of the Clinton Foundation, the longtime project of former President Bill Clinton and now wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea.
“For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest,” the Times reported.
“It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in,” it added.
It would be hard to imagine a conservative author penning those words let alone The New York Times. Indeed, the foundation has long been safe from criticism because no one wants to look like they were attacking a charitable group. But the New York Times “went there.”
Admittedly, the foundation’s financial woes are not exactly new (Bill Clinton discovered the situation was a mess more than a year ago), but the 2016 presidential buzz surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has put the issue in an entirely new light.
That is, as the Times puts it, “efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr. Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs. Clinton’s political future.”
The Times goes on to detail the foundation’s cozy and oftentimes questionable relationship with top business executives:
Last year, Coca-Cola’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, won a coveted spot on the dais with Mr. Clinton, discussing the company’s partnership with another nonprofit to use its distributors to deliver medical goods to patients in Africa. (A Coca-Cola spokesman said that the company’s sponsorship of foundation initiatives long predated Teneo and that the firm plays no role in Coca-Cola’s foundation work.)
In March 2012, David Crane, the chief executive of NRG, an energy company, led a widely publicized trip with Mr. Clinton to Haiti, where they toured green energy and solar power projects that NRG finances through a $1 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
While the Times report, which was released just before the news group’s website temporarily went offline Wednesday, doesn’t have anything nice to say about the foundation, it’s relatively tame in addressing how the foundation may reflect poorly on the Clintons.
The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley, on the other hand, is not.
“The Clintons have never been able to separate the impulses to help others and to help themselves, turning noble philanthropic ventures into glitzy, costly promos for some future campaign (can you remember a time in human history when a Clinton wasn’t running for office?)” he wrote.
“And their ‘Ain’t I Great?!’ ethos attracts the rich and powerful with such naked abandon that it ends up compromising whatever moral crusade they happen to have endorsed that month,” Stanley added.
Would it then be unfair to wonder whether the Clintons are without shame when it comes to selling their image for financial (Bill) or political (Hillary) gain?
Stanley doesn’t think so. Indeed, he argues, they are about as far from being the populists they claim to be.
“The Clintons are populists in the same way that Barack Obama is a Nobel prize winner,” he writes. “Oh, wait…”
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