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Controversial Clinton Global Initiative closing its doors for good

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 19: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former U.S. president Bill Clinton look on during a "Get Out The Caucus" at the Clark County Government Center on February 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. With one day to go before the Democratic caucuses in Nevada, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Las Vegas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a fitting end, The Clinton Global Initiative will shutter operations at their main office in New York City for good on Tax Day, April 15, 2017.

A WARN filing with the Department of Labor indicates that the 22 remaining employees employed there will be terminated on that date and that the official reason given for the layoffs is a "discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initative."

The CGI came under scrutiny during the 2016 election. The many foreign government donors and wealthy benefactors the organization claimed contributed to the belief that the organization was a "pay-to-play" operation designed to enrich the Clintons by trading on their political influence, and by using the speaking circuit as a way to elevate the "Clinton" brand while Hillary Clinton campaigned for president.

Clinton defenders countered those allegations by citing the many charitable organizations the CGI funded around the world.

However, as a report from the New York Observer notes, the criticisms began to reemerge in the wake of Clinton's electoral loss to now President-elect Donald Trump due to the nearly immediate decision by those same wealthy and foreign donors to distance themselves from the foundation — or  fundraising — arm of the initiative:

[A]s soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

The CGI was founded in 2005 to supplement the Clinton Foundation and serve as a networking apparatus to help in fundraising efforts. However, as the Observer notes, the language used to define the goal of the initiative was unclear. "Rather than directly implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and make effective and measurable Commitments to Action—plans for addressing significant global challenges,” the CGI website states.

Clinton was dogged during the waning days of the 2016 election by allegations stemming from an email exchange detailing a memo made public by WikiLeaks in October that the Clinton Foundation was running a scheme to amass a fortune using the Clintons' political influence:

From the Post:

The memo from [top Clinton aide and Clinton Foundation employee] Douglas Band, made public Wednesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, lays out the aggressive strategy behind lining up the consulting contracts and paid speaking engagements for Bill Clinton that added tens of millions of dollars to the family’s fortune, including during the years that Hillary Clinton led the State Department. It describes how Band helped run what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.,” obtaining “in-kind services for the President and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like.”

The alleged abuses of the Clinton Foundation and the CGI are also detailed in the book, "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich" by Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute.

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