Clin­ton Foun­da­tion gives lit­tle to veter­ans groups

Large staff makes char­i­ta­ble giv­ing hard to gauge

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

The Clin­ton Foun­da­tion has col­lected more than $2 bil­lion in rev­enue since it formed — but has given only the tini­est frac­tion to veter­ans groups, in­stead pre­fer­ring to fo­cus on in­ter­na­tional causes and in-house op­er­a­tions that pro­vide far more con­trol and less trans­parency.

Mean­while, a sep­a­rate pri­vate char­ity, the Clin­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, has do­nated about $100,000 to veter­ans groups, ac­cord­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Ri­val Don­ald Trump’s char­i­ta­ble giv­ing to veter­ans has come un­der scru­tiny since he promised to raise mil­lions for the cause at a Jan­uary rally in Iowa. Re­ports ques­tioned whether he fol­lowed through, forc­ing him to re­lease a list of or­ga­ni­za­tions and dol­lar amounts he gave — in­clud­ing a $1 mil­lion check of his own.

Far less at­ten­tion has been given to the Clin­tons’ char­i­ta­ble giv­ing to veter­ans through their own or­ga­ni­za­tions, and par­tic­u­larly the main Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and its close af­fil­i­ate, the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive.

An ex­am­i­na­tion of the foun­da­tion’s 990s, the IRS form that tax-ex­empt 501(c)3 char­i­ties must file an­nu­ally, do not show any di­rect grants to veter­ans groups since 1998, when Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton es­tab­lished the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Most of its do­mes­tic grants are di­rected at health care and anti-poverty or­ga­ni­za­tions and dis­as­ter re­lief, and amount to a small per­cent­age of its cash. The foun­da­tion took in some $338 mil­lion in 2014 and doled out just $4 mil­lion in 10 grants in the U.S. — with the largest be­ing $2 mil­lion to a health care cen­ter in Ore­gon.

In 2013, the Clin­tons made 11 U.S. grants of about $6 mil­lion, in­clud­ing $2 mil­lion to one of its spinoffs, the Clin­ton Health Ac­cess Ini­tia­tive. It took in nearly $300 mil­lion that year, its fi­nan­cial state­ments say.

The Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive, mean­while, does list some “com­mit­ments” it has with veter­ans groups, most of them start­ing af­ter 2011.

In one ex­am­ple, the ini­tia­tive takes credit for gain­ing a com­mit­ment from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veter­ans of Amer­ica in 2011 to join the Cham­ber of Com­merce in hold­ing Smart Job Fairs.

“These events served as a na­tional model for best prac­tices and fo­cused on get­ting at least 1,000 new veter­ans hired into qual­ity jobs,” says the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive web­site.

It says three such fairs were con­ducted be­fore the two broke off the part­ner­ship.

The Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive said the Iraq and Afghanistan group then shifted by tar­get­ing spe­cific in­dus­tries to “en­gag­ing a smaller num­ber of veter­ans at each event.” The Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive does not spell out in its nar­ra­tive ex­actly what it did to cre­ate the job fairs be­yond “com­mit­ments,” and a spokesman for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion did not re­turn phone mes­sages.

A spokes­woman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veter­ans of Amer­ica said the na­tional group has not worked with the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion since 2013. When asked what the foun­da­tion specif­i­cally did to help the veter­ans group, she did not re­spond.

In another veter­ans pro­gram, the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive said that in 2011, a non­profit, 3 Gen­er­a­tions, which doc­u­ments atroc­i­ties on film, com­mit­ted to pro­duc­ing a 15-minute video with vi­gnettes of peo­ple work­ing to get veter­ans hired. 3 Gen­er­a­tions pro­duced two videos in 2011 and 2013 that were posted on its web­site.

Another Clin­ton Foun­da­tion unit, the Clin­ton Health Mat­ters Ini­tia­tive, teamed with Spike TV to hold a con­fer­ence in Jan­uary 2015 on veter­ans’ health. The “sum­mit” was sched­uled amid a PGA golf tour event, the Hu­mana Chal­lenge, which is co-spon­sored by the foun­da­tion.

“Spike will bring vet­eran part­ners to the Health Mat­ters stage for a spe­cial town hall, cre­ate fit­ness ac­ti­va­tions through­out the con­fer­ence and share con­tent from the event with their TV and dig­i­tal au­di­ences,” the Clin­ton group said.

The way the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion reaches veter­ans is in a way a mi­cro­cosm of the char­ity’s atypical op­er­a­tions. In­stead of rais­ing money to hand out to en­ti­ties, such as hospi­tals, as many other phil­an­thropic groups do, the foun­da­tion spends money on its own em­ploy­ees, build­ing a staff es­ti­mated at more than 2,000, with a pres­ence in more than two dozen coun­tries.

The ar­range­ment makes it dif­fi­cult to eval­u­ate the work the foun­da­tion does.

Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor, one of the lead­ing char­ity watch­dogs, said it no longer judges the foun­da­tion’s per­for­mance.

“We had pre­vi­ously eval­u­ated this or­ga­ni­za­tion, but have since de­ter­mined that this char­ity’s atypical busi­ness model can­not be ac­cu­rately cap­tured in our cur­rent rat­ing method­ol­ogy,” Nav­i­ga­tor says. “Our re­moval of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion from our site is nei­ther a con­dem­na­tion nor an en­dorse­ment of this char­ity. We re­serve the right to re­in­state a rat­ing for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion as soon as we iden­tify a rat­ing method­ol­ogy that ap­pro­pri­ately cap­tures its busi­ness model.”

Another group, Char­ity Watch, gave the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion the top rat­ing of an “A.” The grade seems to be de­rived strictly from the foun­da­tion’s pub­lic au­dit and IRS 990 fil­ings. Char­ity Watch­dog also notes that 88 per­cent of do­na­tions are spent on pro­grams. There is no as­sess­ment of the pro­grams them­selves.

“Char­i­tyWatch’s rat­ing of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion is based on the Foun­da­tion’s au­dited con­sol­i­dated fi­nan­cial state­ments, which also in­clude the ac­counts of the Clin­ton Health Ac­cess Ini­tia­tive (CHAI) and Wil­liam J. Clin­ton In­sam­lingss­tif­telse (Clin­ton Foun­da­tion Swe­den), which re­spec­tively op­er­ate as sep­a­rate le­gal non-profit en­ti­ties,” Char­ity Watch states.

Charles Or­tel, a con­ser­va­tive and an in­vest­ment ad­viser, has been go­ing over the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion’s books. Mr. Or­tel has a suc­cess­ful track record as a watch­dog, find­ing cor­po­rate fi­nan­cial prob­lems sim­ply by an­a­lyz­ing their pub­lic fill­ings.

He says that af­ter a 15-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion num­bers are “mis­lead­ing.”

“The num­bers that the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion supplies to the pub­lic in its legally man­dated fil­ings do not add up, are fre­quently in­cor­rect, and ap­pear to be ma­te­ri­ally mis­lead­ing,” he wrote in a 2015 on­line re­port. “In nu­mer­ous cases, the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion ap­pears to have fol­lowed in­con­sis­tent poli­cies adding in ap­pro­pri­ate por­tions of the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties it pur­sued around the world to cre­ate ‘con­sol­i­dated’ fi­nan­cial state­ments.”

Don­ald Trump op­er­ates a small pri­vate char­ity that has handed out $5 mil­lion since 2009, prompt­ing pun­dits to la­bel him Amer­ica’s least-char­i­ta­ble bil­lion­aire. But his fam­ily is more gen­er­ous per­son­ally.

His son and busi­ness part­ner, Eric, runs his own char­ity that has do­nated mil­lions of dol­lars to St. Jude’s Chil­dren’s Re­search Hospi­tal. In 2015, the Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, hospi­tal opened the Eric Trump Foun­da­tion Sur­gi­cal and ICU Cen­ter. His web­site says his foun­da­tion has given or pledged $28 mil­lion to St. Jude’s.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Clin­ton fam­ily’s Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, de­spite tak­ing in over $2 bil­lion since its in­cep­tion, has do­nated lit­tle to veter­ans’ groups. Repub­li­can ri­val Don­ald Trump’s giv­ing to vets has also come un­der in­tense scru­tiny.

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