There are now dozens of articles, several films and numerous news reports about the money that the Clinton Foundation accepts — i.e. revenue.
But there are few, and few reliable, reports about how this organization spends its money and the programs it states it conducts. Taking $millions from unsavory international billionaires like Lebanese-Nigerian Gilbert Chagoury or countries like Saudi Arabia which also received arms deals through the U.S. government is one thing.
If the money comes from bad people and organizations, what if it’s turned to a good purpose? One hears frequently that “the Clinton Foundation does so many good works around the world!” Some charity experts purport to analyze the Foundation’s work; they’ve simply retyped statements from the various pages on the organization and its associates’ websites.
Supporters also tout the organization’s “A” rating from Chicago-based Charity Watchdog, aka “The American Institute for Philanthropy.” This organization has a budget of under $600,000 a year, and its five board members have not changed in at least a decade. Its founder Daniel Borochoff’s salary comprises about 30% of its current revenue. The methodology used by Charity Watchdog is extraordinarily simple and involves no analysis of program conduct, nature and impact, just adding up and dividing numbers from official tax returns. It is effective in detecting unsophisticated charity scammers who phone elderly people for donations, and then spend the money on themselves. Charity Watchdog itself is an organization worthy of some scrutiny as to its effectiveness and impact.
You can read my four-part series here on Medium (start here) if you want to read more in-depth about the Clinton Foundation’s programs.
The Clinton Foundation reported it received $337,985,726 in revenue in 2014 (the most recent year for which it has reported income and expense or filed taxes). Below are an additional three primary programs and achievements advertised on the Clinton Foundation website and their reported outcomes and stated cost.
Clinton Climate Initiative ……………………… $8,293,416
Reported impact: “Over 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced annually across the U.S. through our building retrofit and HEAL programs.”
Both of those programs mentioned are government-funded and one of the two is a small regional loan program for energy efficiency retrofits. The Clinton Foundation is one of thousands of nonprofit organizations, local, regional or state government agencies, for-profit corporations and utilities that participates in government-funded carbon emission reduction programs.
By using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas equivalency calculator, the “impact” of this expenditure is easily compared.
Los Angeles gives away over 2 million free compact fluorescent bulbs a year (and began in 2007). Seattle gives away nearly 400,000 such bulbs. As to wind turbines, for-profit energy ventures installed more than 5,000 MW (megawatts) of wind energy generating turbines in the 4th quarter of 2015 alone: 100 times the stated “impact” of the Clinton Foundation’s government-funded efforts.
The cost per ton of $247.56 in CO2 reduction is grossly inefficient (as can be seen with common sense from the lightbulb and wind turbine comparisons).
It’s more than the highest possible cost estimated by the EPA for 2050!
Clinton Global Initiative ……………………..$23,544,381
The Clinton Global Initiative hosts huge Gala meetings that serve as PR vehicles for well-known attendees. CGI America was held in June in Atlanta. Most attendees pay $20,000 and up. At the Galas, attendees sit and hear panel speeches, watch videos, get reports on various issues (like “climate change”) and sign up for a “Commitment to Action” if they desire. The “Commitment to Action” is a non-binding agreement of “improvement” in whatever area the individual or organization thinks they ought to be working in. Since the majority of the attendees represent corporations or international finance, they “agree” to make various improvements in business they conduct.
Attendees and speakers at this year’s Gala include Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Ursula Burns (Xerox CEO), Jim Yong Kim (President of the World Bank Group), Hemant Kanoria (Chairman and Managing Director of Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd.) and many other global corporate luminaries.
Membership is by invitation only.
Those who attend the meetings also receive the benefits illustrated below:
According to the Clinton Foundation, “more than 3,400 ‘Commitments to Action’” have been made “to date” — and a blog post records that “123 new Commitments to Action were signed in 2015.”
Let’s divide 123 into $23,544,381 and see what we get:
Let’s see if we can find a typical “Commitment to Action.”
No funds of the Clinton Foundation are expended to do any of the work or “action” in the Commitment to Action. The organization/corporation that makes the Commitment is agreeing to undertake the stated Action and obtain the identified outcomes or results on their own. The “Commitment” is supposed to be reported on back to the Clinton Foundation each year.
My personal favorite of these “Commitments to Action” is McDonalds, signed with the theoretically separate organization The Alliance for A Healthier Generation (but the document says “Clinton Global Initiative” and so do all press releases).
We all have common sense.
So is McDonalds agreeing to give customers a choice of a side salad, fruit or vegetable as a substitute in value meals a CHARITABLE GOOD DONE FOR THE WORLD?
Did this cost Clinton Foundation anything? Was any donation made to that Foundation by anybody, whether Lebanese-Nigerian businessman or Saudi Arabia or government of Sweden, going to provide the funds for getting McDonalds to pay to attend the big annual Gala and rub elbows with Richard Branson & Bill Gates and Hollywood celebrities and the Clintons so they could say they would give fruit, salad or veggies with value meals? There are dozens of press releases about this amazing achievement.
But then there’s a fun nutrition or children’s well-being message on the Happy Meal panels, isn’t there?
Oh PS — the “estimated value” on this one is $35 million. That’s according to McDonalds.
As far as legal considerations are concerned, there is little to nothing about the Clinton Global Initiative and CGI University (the “junior” version — 70 universities pay $80,000 and students also pay to “attend” its meeting and sign their own Eagle Scout-type “Commitments to Action” zero funded by Clinton Foundation) that are tax-exempt. The closest scenario would be a trade association or business league (i.e. Chamber of Commerce). Absolutely nothing like an actual Public Charity to which donations are considered exempt, and activities “charitable.”
Clinton Development Initiative………………………$4,482,714
We’re going to do this one the other way around. While the Clinton Foundation states it spends nearly $25 million a year on gala meetings for Fortune 500 companies, global financiers, government officials and celebrities to pat themselves on the back, the Foundation states it is “catalyzing economic empowerment through agribusiness development” in its Development Initiative. This work is stated to “impact more than 105,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania” to increase “their yields and incomes.”
So, we divide 105,000 into $4.48 million. That is a remarkably efficient cost of $42.69 cents per farmer “catalyzed.”
One specific project mentioned is the Anchor Farm Project in Malawi. The Anchor Farm Project “integrates commercial farming and smallholder farmer outreach, providing farmers with access to inputs, agronomic knowledge, and markets.” It supposedly “reaches” 56,000 farmers with 76 “full time staff.”
So, if we divide this out, each of these staff members would be responsible to “reach” 737 farmers a year. Each staff member would be able to spend 2.8 hours with each farmer. That works out to a very generous Malawi wage of $15.2 an hour — except it also notes that there are over 400 part-time, seasonal “workers.”
None of that is real, however, The project was set to be managed and evaluated by the University of Illinois in 2014. There is no evidence the evaluation or management process took place; however, the job description for the evaluator is available on the internet. As with everything connected to the Clinton Foundation, the information about individuals and countries actually conducting work is grossly divergent from reality and what is provided on the Clinton Foundation website.
The goal was to try to “reach” 100,000 farmers by 2016. There were problems noted with the previous program and they were trying to accomplish something after failures. The University of Illinois program was seeking to work with a very ambitious 250 villages and a variety of farm demonstration and training programs.
So who works for whom and who pays whom?
It is impossible to tell.
I very much doubt Keith Polo has access to $4.48 million annually from the Clinton Foundation. The Tukula Farming Company appears to be a separate corporation and is seeking foreign investment.
If you watch the video, the farm itself is 5 former or “defunct” tobacco farms — a total of 3500 hectares (8600 acres). And of course, the “goal” is to encourage “private investment.” If we divide the 56,000 “smallholder” farmers into the 8600 acres, each would be able to have .15 acre to farm. COOL BEANS! As in “bean plant” per farmer. Not quite that bad, but to understand how much .15 acre is — approximately 6500 square feet. Southern California averages about 3 house lots per acre. So, each farmer could have a plot about the size of a typical front or back yard in a suburban area.
None of this is real, of course. I am simply performing common sense calculations to illustrate how unrealistic the Clinton Foundation claims are of “impact” and what they do.
In the charitable sector, many charities report bizarrely huge numbers of those served. Sometimes this results from “duplication” — for example, a small soup kitchen may state they serve meals to 10,000 people per day. They could be counting a piece of bread given out as a “person” or more likely, they haven’t sat down to “get” that the average McDonalds serves fewer than 2,000 meals per day, and employs 40 to 60 people. Anybody who runs a restaurant can look at many such “soup kitchen” claims and see how unrealistic they are.
In my case, I am writing these articles because I have
a) Served as VP for a medium/large nonprofit organization with more than 100 employees based in downtown Los Angeles, which operated about 300 units of affordable housing and provided intense social services and other programs for about 300 to 500 homeless/very low income families in 5–7 locations in Los Angeles county’s highest poverty areas.
b) Been a former Kellogg-United Way board member trainer as well as board member and officer of actual, operating charitable organizations.
c) Performed business planning and fund development for 180 small- to medium-enterprises in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
It’s obvious to me on the face of every single page of the Clinton Foundation website that the best-case scenario for them is that they are unprofessional, uncoordinated, answer to no funding authority or supervising organization (such as a government funder with a program officer/executive), and are basically making stuff up as they go along. Certainly there is evidence in the case of video with employees like Keith Polo above that the Foundation does have some employees who do actual work, but what they think they do is grossly divergent from claims made by the higher-ups at the Foundation. It’s also work that is not funded through the Clinton Foundation.
That’s a different form of “Pay to Play.” Others, such as private businesses, investment banks, and government organizations in the U.S. and abroad, pay for every single thing the Clinton Foundation states that it does or accomplishes.
So, the reason the IRS should pull this organization’s charter and take whatever remaining assets it has and reassign them to a functioning foundation is that
The Clinton Foundation reported it received $337,985,726 in 2014 and I have yet to find anything where even 10% of stated expenditures had any relationship to the “work” they state they accomplish.
Note: this article does not cover the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) with a large portion of Clinton Foundation recorded expenditures (57.3%). The only fact related to that, which I will note, is that the majority of these funds are received from foreign governments such as Australia or consortia of government funds such as UNITAID, and the organization states it “negotiates purchase agreements for HIV/AIDS drugs.” CHAI does not distribute the drugs nor does it provide any type of treatment or assistance for those with HIV/AIDS. At over $140 million in revenue, that is a heck of a “negotiation” or “finder’s fee.” The CHAI website provides statistics on AIDS/HIV in Africa that are — once again — grossly divergent from WHO or US CDC or African national figures on HIV/AIDS infection. They are 3–4 years out of date at best (some cannot be tied to any current figures at all).
And finally, regarding salaries. The accounting and record-keeping is so poor, it is impossible to determine how many genuine employees the Clinton Foundation has on its payroll, and what they do.
Not only are the many internships unpaid, they also —
Do not offer housing.
So, I am being very “charitable” in estimating that the Clinton Foundation spends about $37 million on activities related to any of the “charitable” purposes it lists on its website.
That leaves $300 million for a big birthday present for Bill Clinton. I don’t think I care to sign his card.