Maybe the third time Hillary Clinton runs for president, she’ll get it exactly right. That Goldilocks campaign – in 2020?—will be large and distinguished enough to accommodate a woman who has been prominent on the national stage for decades, but small enough to convince average Americans that Hillary is their best bud. It’s a challenge, but Hillary is nothing if not renewable. Sustainability is another matter.
In a recent column, I suggested that stockholders in companies that donate to the Clinton Foundation should protest that misuse of funds. Why am I so opposed to an organization that is supposedly doing good works?
Ask yourself this: Why does the Clinton Foundation exist? Most such entities are established by people who have a great deal of money – like Bill Gates, or the Fords—who want their funds to go to charitable purposes, often beyond their lifetimes. Our tax code allows people to donate their wealth to a foundation and take a tax deduction; a foundation can earn tax-free investment returns on the money, thus helping to perpetuate its existence.
The Clintons did not have great wealth when they established the foundation in 2001. That was the year that Bill Clinton moved out of the White House; at the time, according to Hillary, they were “dead broke.” What better way to pile up some dough than set up a foundation, and ask their friends and political allies to support it – and them?
If their ambition had been to use their celebrity to do good works, the Clintons could have endorsed a major non-profit like the Red Cross or the American Cancer Society– as Jimmy Carter has with Habitat for Humanity. They did not need to set up their own foundation.
The enormous foundation, with revenues of $295 million last year, and assets of almost $300 million, serves to keep Hillary and Bill ever in the spotlight and to keep their cronies like Sidney Blumenthal employed between political gigs. It backed Bill’s 2007 book Giving, which netted him $6.3 million. It provides first class travel and lavish events at which they can attract and hit up donors who enjoy mingling with movie stars. Note: unlike most charity galas - those lavish events lose money.
Corporations should not fund political slush funds like the Clinton Foundation. There are too many instances of apparent quid pro quo, and in any event the foundation fails to pass most objective tests of transparency and efficiency. Both Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau have recently declined to rate the organization.
In my column I singled out Coca-Cola, which is the biggest U.S. corporate donor, having shelled out between $5 and $10 million to the Clinton’s foundation – but the beverage company is certainly not alone. (Coco-Cola did not respond to an inquiry about their donations.) Here are some other companies that have contributed to the giant non-profit, all of which have donated between one and five million dollars.
I have not distinguished between companies and their foundations since generally grants from associated non-profits are overseen by management. In some cases, such as Walmart, that may not be the case. Also, I have not included foreign companies, of which there are many. Gifts from overseas firms raise quite separate issues, which have been ably explored by Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash. Note the prevalence of heavily regulated firms in healthcare and energy – both industries that need a helping hand from elected officials. I have included their twitter handles to make it easier for stockholders to voice their opinions.
Anheuser-Busch Foundation @AnheuserBusch
Booz Allen Hamilton @BoozAllen
Citi Foundation @Citi
Duke Energy @DukeEnergy
Proctor & Gamble @ProctorGamble
Tenet Healthcare @tenethealth
The Boeing Company @Boeing
The Dow Chemical Company @DowChemical
The Goldman Sachs Group @GoldmanSachs
The Walmart Foundation @Walmart
Thomson Reuters @thomsonreuters