They’re back in the news.
A lot of noise around about the NFL “Anthem Protests.” All that noise has pretty much blocked a lot of news from getting to page one or tv headlines. One of those is the Clinton Foundation’s Form 990 — the required tax form for all charitable organizations. Care to look-in on the state of financial affairs for the Foundation? Click on the following link:
- The Foundation received $177, 804,612 in total revenue 2014;
- That compares to $147,842,769 the previous year;
- Amount paid out to specific charities was $5,160,385; (less than 3% of revenue received)
- 24 “Senior” officials of the Clinton Foundation received a total of $3,072,076 in salary;
- 486 employees of the Foundation were paid $34,838,106;
- Total expenses of the Foundation were $91,281,145.
Expenses of Note
- $7,863,286 were travel costs for the year;
- “Conference” expenses totaled $12,469,045;
- “Other” expenses (no detail) were $7,323,080;
- Total expenses were $91,281,145.
This Form 990 was for the year 2014, well before the campaign by Hillary began formally for the 2016 election. Needless to say, the Clinton Foundation raised a lot of money. Bill Clinton started an affiliated entity called the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005. From the Clinton Foundation website:
“Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convened global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Through CGI University, CGI America, CGI International and its flagship Annual Meeting, CGI brought together more than 200 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel laureates, and hundreds of leading corporate CEOs, Presidents of foundations, Executive Directors of the most effective NGOs, and major philanthropists to commit to take action against these challenges. From 2005-2016, CGI members have made more than 3,600 Commitments to Action, which are improving the lives of over 435 million people in 180 countries.”
The Initiative was not involved in giving grants at all but received its funding directly from contributions. It was the target of many and often called “The Clinton Slush Fund.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Hillary Clinton attempted to cloak the Initiative’s impropriety by “hiding” incriminating e-mails. When the documents were made public, Fitton said they conclusively prove “the State Department and the Clinton Foundation worked hand in hand in terms of policy and donor effort,” despite Hillary’s 2009 pledge to cease involvement with the Clinton Foundation. Amid the accusations, the Clinton Global Initiative reportedly lost tens-of-millions of dollars in donations.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Manhattan Republican Party Vice-President Brian Morgenstern noted that the donations waned significantly when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election. In his opinion, the Clinton Global Initiative donors clearly expected Clinton to use her influence as President of the United States to “reward” them for their donations. As she did not win the election, Morgenstern suggests the donors lost their motivation. Although the Initiative appeared to falter amid the outcome of the presidential election, plans to halt the Initiative were originally announced by former President Bill Clinton in August. At the time, it was assumed that the Initiative would be dissolved to avoid a conflict of interest if Hillary Clinton won the elections. Despite the fact that she did not win, the Foundation moved forward with their plans.
In October, the Clinton Global Initiative filed an initial WARN notice — which stated a total of 74 CGI employees would be laid off. Three months later, another WARN notice was filed, stating that 22 more employees would be terminated amid the discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.
It’s really difficult to write such a report full of factual information like this without getting emotional and very angry. Several hundred million dollars a year were raised for purely charitable reasons by almost 500 people. Certainly there was some good work done, some good causes funded, and people helped who were in dire straits. But the fiduciary responsibilities of this and every tax-free charitable organization are all supposed to be for one reason: to accumulate resources to assist those in need — and nothing else. Certainly in doing so and achieving successful results requires seed money. The Clinton Foundation obviously achieved that goal.
The Tax Reform Act of 1969 defined the fundamental social contract offered to private foundations such as the Clinton Foundation. In exchange for exemption from paying most taxes and for limited tax benefits being offered to donors, a private foundation must (a) pay out at least 5% of the value of its endowment each year, none of which may be to the private benefit of any individual; (b) not own or operate significant for-profit businesses; (c) file detailed public annual reports and conduct annual audits in the same manner as a for-profit corporation; (d) meet a suite of additional accounting requirements unique to nonprofits. As noted above, the Clinton Foundation in 2014 paid out less than 3% of its received contributions.
How did the Clinton Foundation escape that “5% payout rule” from the Tax Reform Act of 1969? Administrative and operating expenses count towards the 5% requirement.
How does the Clinton Foundation compare to some others in giving to causes what is donated?
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross does a good job of spending your money when you donate. They manage to keep administrative expenses at less than 5 percent of their total overhead, and they spend about 91 cents for every dollar donated on actual programs that benefit the community. Whether it’s teaching CPR or managing a crisis during the aftermath of a disaster, the Red Cross puts your money to good use.
Approximately 85 percent of income donated to World Vision goes to help stamp out poverty around the world. While they are still well below the 33 percent benchmark, they tend to spend more on fundraising than other highly-rated charities in this category. Nonetheless, if stamping out poverty is your passion, World Vision does a good job with your money.
Doctors Without Borders
These brave folks at Doctors Without Borders go into the most deplorable conditions to bring healing to others. Your money here is well spent. According to their website, about 89 percent of total revenue goes to supporting their programs.
Comparison of the Clinton Foundation with these three charities
In short, anyone who donated to the Clinton Foundation (at least during 2014) were obviously not concerned about the percentage of their contribution that ended up funding a charitable event. Less than 3% of what was contributed was actually paid out by the Clinton Foundation! These numbers and the obvious financial mismanagement of this charitable foundation is the primary reason for the cries from many that the Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative were nothing more than a way to funnel money into the special interest and political operations of Hillary’s upcoming campaign rather than to function in a charitable way. For every dollar given to the Clinton Foundation, 97 cents was gobbled up by “operations!”
And now, Hillary’s new book is out in which she explains all 987 reasons why she did not win the 2016 Presidential election. And with that book being published, she is back on stage, on set, and in book stores signing autographs. Americans (especially Democrats) sighed a note of relief that she apparently was finished politically with her loss to President Trump. Not so — she’s still beating the “Hillary” drum and doesn’t seem to be planning to give the drum away any time soon.
I don’t know about the 2020 campaign for the White House. She made it fairly clear she was not going to run for office again. But she got the drum out of the closet. And she’s looking for a set of drumsticks to get started again.