I don’t usually say “I told you so.”
I find it unseemly.
But in this case I would like to give a reminder.
I posted on March 7:
The press is all a flutter about Hillary’s e-mails, something both the administration and Hillary knew to be a problem back in August. Some think the reason why the e-mail scandal broke now was to redirect attention from Obama’s Iran policy.
I don’t think so. I think they are diverting attention from this:
Numerous news outlets have reported the troubling issues engulfing the Clinton Foundation, but it is this in depth Wall Street Journal article written by James V Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus, with contributions by James T Areddy, that reveals how the “foundation agreed not to seek donations from other governments, but cash kept flowing from individuals with connections to them:”
The Clinton Foundation swore off donations from foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. That didn’t stop the foundation from raising millions of dollars from foreigners with connections to their home governments, a review of foundation disclosures shows.
Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments. One is a member of the Saudi royal family. Another is a Ukrainian oligarch and former parliamentarian. Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities. Their professed policy interests range from human rights to U.S.-Cuba relations.
All told, more than a dozen foreign individuals and their foundations and companies were large donors to the Clinton Foundation in the years after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, collectively giving between $34 million and $68 million, foundation records show. Some donors also provided funding directly to charitable projects sponsored by the foundation, valued by the organization at $60 million.
After Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013, the foundation resumed accepting donations from foreign governments. Just after she stepped down as secretary of state, it received a large donation from a conglomerate run by a member of China’s National People’s Congress.
In response to questions about foreign donations, a foundation official said the individuals have given to a host of other major philanthropies. “Like other global charities and nongovernmental organizations, 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,” said spokesman Craig Minassian.
The foreign donors reached by The Wall Street Journal said they contributed to the foundation for charitable, not political reasons.
The foundation’s efforts in health care, economic development and opportunity for women and girls are being touted by Mrs. Clinton as she prepares to embark on a campaign for the presidency.
“I’m very proud of the hundreds of thousands of people who support the work of the foundation and the results that have been achieved for people here at home and around the world,” she said last week.
Mrs. Clinton has been criticized for donations to the charity that now also bears her name: the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Journal’s report in February that the foundation had resumed accepting foreign-government donations prompted criticism from Republicans and some Democrats, who said it represented a conflict for a potential future president.
The foundation has said that if Mrs. Clinton runs for president, it would consider once again restricting donations from foreign governments. Also, under federal election law, foreign governments, individuals and corporations would be barred from giving to her campaign.
Former President Bill Clinton promised the Obama administration the foundation wouldn’t accept most foreign-government donations while his wife was secretary of state. The agreement didn’t place limits on donations from foreign individuals or corporations.
A precise donation tally isn’t possible because the foundation’s voluntary disclosure doesn’t provide dates and reports dollar amounts in ranges. The Journal tracked donations through foundation disclosures, watchdog reports and other media accounts.
Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.
Mr. Pinchuk and his wife—the daughter of former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma—began donating to Clinton charities in 2006 after being introduced to Mr. Clinton by Doug Schoen, a pollster who has worked for both Clintons.
In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.
During Mrs. Clinton’s time at the State Department, Mr. Schoen, the pollster, registered as a lobbyist for Mr. Pinchuk, federal records show. Mr. Schoen said he and Mr. Pinchuk met several times with Clinton aides including Melanne Verveer, a Ukrainian-American and then a State Department ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. The purpose, Mr. Schoen said, was to encourage the U.S. to pressure Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych to free his jailed predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Mr. Schoen said his lobbying was unrelated to the donations. “We were not seeking to use any leverage or any connections or anything of the sort relating to the foundation,” he said.
The Pinchuk foundation said its donations were intended to help to make Ukraine “a successful, free, modern country based on European values.” It said that if Mr. Pinchuk was lobbying the State Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wasn’t allowed to give to the foundation while Mrs. Clinton was at the State Department. But several prominent Saudi Arabian businessmen gave millions.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S. and member of the Saudi royal family who has attended annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative, made donations in 2013 and 2014, though exact dates aren’t available. Prince Turki met Bill Clinton decades ago when both were students at Georgetown University’s foreign-service school. Prince Turki’s chief of staff didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.
Another donor, Sheikh Mohammed H. Al Amoudi, an Ethiopian immigrant to Saudi Arabia, has donated between $5 million and $10 million, including while Mrs. Clinton served in the State Department. Mr. Al Amoudi has built an empire of construction, agricultural and energy companies across Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia. He also has endowed a breast-cancer institute at the government-run King Abdulaziz University and is a participant in Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Food Security Program.
His U.S. lawyer, George Salem, said his client “is a private Saudi citizen, and not a government official in Saudi Arabia.” He said there was “nothing inappropriate” about the donation, which was to fight AIDS in Ethiopia.
Among the other overseas givers:
• Joachim Schoss, a German investor who has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other government officials to discuss Internet policy, has given between $1 million and $5 million, some of which came during Mrs. Clinton tenure at the State Department. A spokeswoman for Mr. Schoss said his donations were “purely philanthropic” and unrelated to politics.
• Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, who is active in Venezuelan politics and has long advocated restoring ties between the U.S. and Cuba, has given the foundation between $500,000 and $1 million, some during Mrs. Clinton’s stint at the State Department. He owns Venevisión, one of Venezuela’s largest television networks, once a staunch opponent of former President Hugo Chávez. Since Mr. Chávez’s death in 2013, Mr. Cisneros has maintained ties to the new president, Nicolás Maduro. A spokesman for Mr. Cisneros didn’t respond to a request for comment.
• Victor Dahdaleh, a London businessman whose foundation contributed between $1 million and $5 million, has ties to Bahrain’s state-owned aluminum company. He was the intermediary between the state-owned Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C. and Alcoa World Alumina, which is majority owned by Alcoa Inc. Last year, he was acquitted in London on charges of bribing Bahraini officials to secure contracts for the Alcoa firm. In the U.S., the Alcoa affiliate pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges, and the Justice Department said an investigation into the matter remains open.
During the British trial, Mr. Dahdaleh’s lawyer acknowledged his client made payments to Bahraini officials but said they were legal. Another of his lawyers, Neil O’May, said the Alcoa affiliate’s U.S. guilty plea “does not detract from Mr. Dahdaleh’s acquittal by a competent court in the U.K.”
Donations for foreigners with government ties continued flowing in after Mrs. Clinton left the State Department.
Rilin Enterprises, part of a privately held Chinese construction, infrastructure and port-management company, made a $2 million foundation pledge. The company was founded and is run by Wang Wenliang, a member of the National People’s Congress, China’s formal parliamentary body. Mr. Wang didn’t respond to a request to speak with him during the annual meeting earlier this month.
Mr. Wang is the former municipal official of Dandong, a city of 2.4 million in the Liaoning province on China’s border with North Korea. His company now controls that city’s port, a major trade route into North Korea.
The Clinton Foundation was unaware Mr. Wang was a delegate to the NPC, said a foundation official.
Mr. Wang’s spokeswoman, Abigail Gardner, said he “has a long history of generous philanthropic giving to institutions of higher education and organizations that work on and promote global relations.”
One of Mr. Wang’s firms was a contractor for the new Chinese Embassy in Washington. His company also has made donations to Singapore, Harvard and New York Universities as well as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.