Given the onslaught of negative news about the Clinton Foundation, another negative review may appear as piling on — even political. But, in my defense, I have been an early and consistent critic of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
My first critiques were prompted by firsthand observation of the Clintons’ shenanigans in Haiti, where I have directed a school since 1996. Personal experience and research have helped me to see through the thin layer of good works they use as veneer to hide their political and profit motives. Throughout, my interest in criticizing the Clinton Foundation has been influencing philanthropy, not politics.
Understanding the issues with the Clinton Foundation requires discrete observation of the three main parts: the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation (WJCF), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
The WJCF’s initial purpose, as is customary for foundations of former presidents, was to support a library to curate personal archives. However, Mr. Clinton, interested in a global legacy, quickly added CHAI and CGI under his foundation’s umbrella. Intentional or not, the byproduct of having three parts to shuffle has allowed the Clintons to keep the public and the press stupefied like fresh marks walking up to a three-card Monte game.
To continue the gambling metaphor, CHAI, which focuses on alleviating the devastating impact of the HIV AIDS epidemic, is the lady of the three pieces. The Clintons and their promoters love to use CHAI to dazzle (distract) the crowd. It is CHAI’s success that allows the Clintons to claim they have helped millions. However, more than a few partners in the work — and there are many big partners — have claimed that CHAI has made its admirable strides in spite of the Clinton’s participation, not thanks to it. CHAI is also the basis for the most common statement to come at the end of a criticism of the foundation: “Oh, but they do some much good.”
CHAI differs so greatly in its effectiveness and management style from the other parts that it has decided to break from the foundation entirely. Using the possibility of Hillary Clinton’s victory as an excuse, CHAI is planning to be a completely independent entity going forward. The organization decided to go by its acronym and drop “Clinton” from its name completely.
CGI, which openly admits that it does not directly fund any real activities with the millions in fees it charges those who attend its annual celebrity-donor fest, is where the shuffle happens. This is the aspect that Doug Band, WikiLeaks’ newest victim and President Clinton’s former aide, deftly designed. It is CGI that has allowed Clinton Inc. to blend with the Clinton Foundation to the benefit of the now multi-millionaire Clintons, who supposedly left the White House penniless.
The finances of these various entities in the Clinton Foundation are even more complex than their organizational charts. However, there is enough clarity for The Economist in an Oct. 1 article (“Bill and Hillary Inc.”) to report that only 68 percent of the funds flowing through the foundation go to programs — the work.
That 68 percent is deplorably lower than the 80 percent minimum threshold for respectable nonprofits. Given that CHAI accounts for two-thirds of the donations and an even greater share of the objectively identifiable work being done by the foundation, an even more dismal picture awaits with CHAI’s departure. If the overall money spent on programming is currently 68 percent, the spending on actual work by the remaining foundation without CHAI could be well under 33 percent.
In the children’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it is a small, single voice that cries out. The voice could have been easily ignored; however, the fact would remain that the emperor was buck naked. I can identify with this tale. I readily admit that my voice is small in comparison to the giants that have praised the Clintons and their work. However, the fact remains. The Clinton Foundation, especially the Clinton Global Initiative, is a sham.