Fio­r­ina’s ties to Clin­ton

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Joseph Tan­fani

WASH­ING­TON — In a crowd of Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tenders ham­mer­ing away at Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, no one has been more re­lent­less than Carly Fio­r­ina.

In speeches and me­dia in­ter­views, some of them while shad­ow­ing Clin­ton on the cam­paign trail, Fio­r­ina, the for­mer Hewlett-Packard chief ex­ec­u­tive, has at­tacked the Clin­tons’ fam­ily foun­da­tion for a lack of trans­parency amid re­ports that it ac­cepted money from for­eign gov­ern­ments.

“She is not trust­wor­thy,” Fio­r­ina says in a video on her web­site, it­self named Ready­toBeatHil­lary.com.

In a Face­book post, Fiori- na ex­co­ri­ated the Clin­tons for ac­cept­ing dona­tions from for­eign gov­ern­ments “while mak­ing prom­ises about trans­parency that they never in­tended to keep.”

“What else don’t we know? What don’t we know about your donors?” she asked Wed­nes­day on Fox News about the Clin­tons’ char­i­ta­ble ef­forts. “What don’t we know about the conf licts of in­ter­est that those donors rep­re­sent?”

Fio­r­ina’s crit­i­cism, how­ever, comes af­ter years of as­so­ci­a­tion with the Clin­ton foun­da­tion through her own phil­an­thropic work.

One Fio­r­ina char­i­ta­ble ef­fort, a cam­paign to fund women’s em­pow­er­ment projects around the globe, went for­ward with help from the State Depart­ment when Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of State, and Fio­r­ina also has roles in two char­i­ties that par­tic­i­pated in Clin­ton-fu­eled part­ner­ships.

The at­tacks on the Clin­tons af­ter years of a pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship with the foun­da­tion show how per­sonal and pro­fes­sional ties can com­pli­cate life on the cam­paign trail for well-con­nected can­di­dates like Fio­r­ina, who also un­suc­cess­fully ran for Se­nate in Cal­i­for­nia in 2010.

In ad­di­tion to her char­ity ties, Fio­r­ina has also twice par­tic­i­pated in events that were part of the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive, one of the or­ga­ni­za­tions in the Clin­tons’ world­wide phil­an­thropic net­work.

In 2013, she spoke on a small panel that dis­cussed how to boost fe­male en­trepreneur­ship. Last year, she ap­peared with for­mer Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and three other peo­ple on a tele­vised panel dis­cus­sion on how best to pull peo­ple out of poverty.

Fio­r­ina at times sparred with the for­mer pres­i­dent and crit­i­cized Demo­cratic eco­nomic poli­cies, say­ing that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “made the rich much richer.” But she also ar­gued for the role of small busi­ness and praised the ini­tia­tive’s work.

“Seed cap­i­tal, sup­port, tools, en­ergy, all of the ini­tia­tives that the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive in­vests in to try and build Main Street en­trepreneur­ship — it has al­ways been the hope of this coun­try,” Fio­r­ina said.

A spokes­woman for Fio­r­ina said she was “de­lighted” to par­tic­i­pate in a ses­sion ad­vo­cat­ing for women who are en­trepreneurs and char­ac­ter­ized the sec­ond dis­cus­sion as “a de­bate with Bill Clin­ton.”

Fio­r­ina did not re­spond to fol­low-up ques­tions about her in­volve­ment with the foun­da­tion or her work with the State Depart­ment.

Bill Clin­ton, speak­ing at a CGI con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, said the foun­da­tion had al­ways con­sid­ered it­self non­po­lit­i­cal and had hosted a num­ber of Repub­li­can politi­cians, in­clud­ing Mitt Rom­ney and John McCain. He didn’t men­tion Fio­r­ina.

Fio­r­ina helped spark a char­i­ta­ble drive in 2008 called the One Woman Ini­tia­tive, tar­get­ing women’s em­pow­er­ment groups, mostly in Mus­lim coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, she set it up with help from the State Depart­ment, the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment and then-Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice.

It took about a year to raise the money. By the time the ap­prox­i­mately $500,000 in grants were re­leased, in June 2009, Pres­i­dent Obama was in of­fice and Clin­ton was sec­re­tary of State.

The ini­tia­tives in­cluded a mi­cro­fi­nance pro­gram in Pak­istan, a conf lict res­o­lu­tion pro­gram in the Philip­pines and an eco­nomic devel­op­ment pro­gram in In­dia.

The ini­tia­tive aimed to dis­trib­ute grants with the help of cor­po­rate spon­sors, and with sup­port from the Depart­ment of State and USAID. The agen­cies also de­clined to com­ment about the ini­tia­tive.

The Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive draws to­gether cor­po­rate and char­ity lead­ers for net­work­ing and to an­nounce com­mit­ments to com­plete projects to­gether.

Fio­r­ina is con­nected to two groups that par­tic­i­pated in such pro­grams. She is board chair­woman of Good360, a Vir­ginia-based group that con­nects com­pa­nies that want to do­nate goods with char­i­ties that need them. Hil­ton World­wide made the pro­gram a CGI com­mit­ment in 2013.

Fio­r­ina also is on the ad­vi­sory board of the Na­tional Cen­ter for En­trepreneur­ship and In­no­va­tion, a group that wants to open a cen­ter cel­e­brat­ing in­ven­tors and en­trepreneurs on the Na­tional Mall in Wash­ing­ton.

That too was an­nounced as a CGI com­mit­ment in 2013. But the plans have stalled, in part be­cause the Smith­so­nian de­cided it couldn’t de­vote re­sources to the project, said Philip Auer­swald, the group’s board chair­man.

The ad­vi­sory board and Fio­r­ina didn’t play a role in the de­ci­sion to an­nounce the project as a CGI com­mit­ment, he said.

“Carly has been noth­ing but sup­port­ive through­out this process,” Auer­swald said.

Elise Amen­dola

REPUB­LI­CAN pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Carly Fio­r­ina, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hewlett-Packard, at a cam­paign event in New Bos­ton, N.H., this month.

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