Clinton Foundation 2017: Poorer But No Wiser
What has happened at the globe-spanning nonprofit since the 2016 Presidential election?
The Presidential Leadership Scholar program [as reported via Medium] is a joint project of four Presidential Library Centers (Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Lyndon Johnson), not just the Clinton Foundation. Note: out of the four participating Presidential Centers, only Clinton’s fails to mention the other three Presidents and centers.
The Foundation, Clinton allies, and surrogates, have spent much more time telling others that 87% of donated funds “support programs helping people” than time has been spent “helping” any individuals by any employee associated with the Foundation. Since the organization’s financial reports are prepared on a formulaic basis (13% “administrative costs” every year), the claim of program expenditures is meaningless.
“Since 2001, the Clinton Foundation has been working around the world to improve lives and expand opportunity.”
Any actual nonprofit organization would have been out of business long ago based on lives cut off from opportunity (Haiti, Malawi, Rwanda, Colombia) and vulnerable individuals [Yemeni “child divorcee” Nujood Ali] used for publicity and discarded.
Former President Clinton defends his namesake charity with the bravado for which he is famous.
Notice how carefully these claims are written. The numbers have no tie-in to prior written reports. The Foundation writes any number it chooses at any time. Most of these numbers are physically impossible, such as 150,000 “farmers improving their livelihoods” from one small self-funded “anchor farm” in Malawi.
This is the first reference I have seen to books being distributed. The Foundation often finds or creates “programs” to fill website space.
The Numbers Make No Sense Because Nobody Checks or Cares
Putting Clinton’s touted book distribution figure of 835,000 in perspective, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) has distributed more than 412 million books to 40 million children since 1966. Others may be familiar with Dolly Parton’s charitable commitment to get as many children reading as possible. Over 1.1 million children are registered in her “Imagination Library” program, and it encourages local parents to start chapters of their own to reach more children.
If you have not read any of my prior articles about the Clinton Foundation before, there are four things you need to know:
- All of the “Clinton Health Matters Initiative” (CHMI) “programs” and “events” are gala meetings held in resort areas where Bill Clinton and other Foundation officials or family (Donna Shalala, CEO, Chelsea Clinton) golf — especially Rancho Mirage, CA [site of the Career Builder, formerly Bob Hope Golf Challenge].
- These articles were and are written from the perspective of charitable best-practices and ethics in accounting, financial management, transparency, and program mission, visions and outcomes. The Clinton Foundation fails miserably in every one of those areas. Its primary measurable activity, the Clinton Global Initiative meetings, have no measurable charitable benefit. Global corporations, CEOs, and other individuals seeking to “network” are the beneficiaries of the CGI events: no individuals in any type of charitable need receive any benefit from the events. Cost to attend a CGI meeting is $25,000 and up. Universities pay to host the CGI-University meetings.
- The Foundation re-filed three years of tax returns “voluntarily” that covered the tax years of 2010–2012 (coinciding with Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State) for a variety of oversights, the most significant being that the returns stated the Foundation received zero (0) “government grants” during the three-year period. The actual amount was over $435 million in grants … over 96% from foreign governments. These are gifts from Morocco’s “Sheikh Mo” and many others, from the Swedish Postcode Lottery to the Australian government. The Australian government, without voter approval or knowledge, provided over $75 million AUD for “AIDS/HIV relief” in Papua New Guinea — and of course,
- Money poured in from all over the world for HIV/AIDS. An editorial in The Australian questioned the large sum of money provided to a foreign organization; author Greg Sheridan was apparently unaware that the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) had one (1) employee serving Southeast Asia during the time Australia’s massive grants were provided, a woman who simultaneously worked as the Caterpillar distributor for Vietnam.
Case in Point: Narcan
President Clinton touts “6,000 doses of Naloxone distributed to reduce opioid overdose deaths.” The Foundation’s Alex Chan writes about all the great work they do in the area of prescription drug misuse.
“Working to build support” “Working to reduce stigma” “we have convinced the academic community to do a study” and of course,
we’re working with Adapt Pharma, the American School Nurses Association, and a number of other partners to make FDA-approved naloxone NARCAN nasal spray available in high schools, colleges and universities, and other community centers where people already are.
This is the Kaleo-Clinton-Gingrich Narcan scheme.
After a school or local government receives a free Narcan pack, they will then be signed up for ongoing shipments of future packs at inflated prices (in Kaleo’s case, self-injector two-packs now go for more than $4,500 — similar to the Epipen and Shkreli price-gouging schemes).
Last year around this time I calculated that the Foundation had about $300 million to provide to Bill Clinton as his “birthday gift,” if all the funds providing the non-programs they do not conduct, yet claim credit for, were added together.
The Foundation’s most recent financial statements and reports cover the tax year 2016 — or the calendar year 2015. Tax rules meant that the reports did not need to be filed until November 15, 2016, a week after the 2016 U.S. election. Surely some details in these reports may have been noted at the time, such as the fact that the Foundation reported 65 staff members making over $100,000 a year (in 2015).
The problem isn’t just that the Clinton Foundation doesn’t donate funds to charitable organizations that build housing, provide food, educate children, or deliver health care services. The Foundation accomplishes its vaguely-stated goals with few, or no, employees conducting “programs.” Almost all employee salary scales I have accessed show job titles that refer to administrative, financial, fundraising, or communications activities. The Foundation exists to maintain itself, conduct its gala meetings, and apparently, wish President Clinton a “happy birthday” every August.
One of the top finds in Wikileaks’ Podesta emails, in addition to in-depth management letters issued by McKinsey executives documenting everything I noted from studying the organization’s website, publically-available financial reports, and attempting to track “performance” or outcomes, were bi-weekly reports sent by Foundation staff to President Clinton. In contrast to the Foundation’s frequent claims of “helping millions” and “changing lives,” Clinton’s bi-weekly program reports document low-functioning bureaucratic creep toward non-existent objectives.
Which brings us to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The Clinton Foundation claims an “affiliate” relationship with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) organization, which files its own IRS form 990 and has its own EIN, own financial accounting (rumored to be Excel spreadsheets as per Podesta emails), own board, own offices in Massachusetts, separate staff, and totally separate programs. Many of the large government grants and some individual foundation grants that the Clinton Foundation reports were provided to CHAI, led by Bill Clinton’s friend from Oxford days, Ira Magaziner.
Clinton Foundation’s current (2016 tax year/2015 accounting period) tax return specifies that not only is CHAI an affiliated organization, so too, is the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, whose programs are often featured as Clinton Foundation achievements or “outcomes.” This non-profit also files a separate tax return, has a separate EIN, a separate board, a separate staff, and is located in Portland, Oregon. The programs it operates, which were occasionally reported on to President Clinton in the bi-weekly reports, are primarily an extension of and re-creation of massive, federally-funded nutrition and exercise programs initiated and led by a well-known figure: former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The program Clinton claims credit for is “Let’s Move Active Schools”. There are currently 38 organizations listed as co-sponsors on the website, and the program’s primary materials and backing information were designed by, and paid for, by a consortium of federal agencies and other major nonprofit organizations. But not the Clinton Foundation or The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
HEDIS, also referred to, is a set of health care quality measures used by 90% of health care insurers and health care organizations, privately- and publically-funded.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s programs deserve scrutiny, and are difficult to tie to any real, concrete beneficial outcomes. The relatively-small organization is one of a large consortium of youth and health-related advocacy organizations. The Clinton Foundation provides between $1 and $2 million in funding a year. No functional national or international nonprofit organization would identify outcomes of a related organization like the Alliance as its primary achievements. The Clinton Foundation features photos from the Alliance as the primary images in nearly every official publication and counts its work as a minor player in the huge national child health arena as its own primary achievements.
If you take nothing else from this article, please understand that any average charitable organization in a community of 50,000 or more, anywhere in the U.S., Canada — or worldwide — has a greater number of documented, verifiable outcomes than the Clinton Foundation. None of the inflated numbers listed by President Clinton above has any relationship to the Clinton Foundation’s funding, paid employees, or mysterious, nebulous volunteers and “programs”. They are simply random numbers.
The problem is not exclusive to the Clinton Foundation, although this organization is the most egregious example of no performance-no scrutiny-no accountability. Many champions of favored causes exist solely to provide publicity for major corporations and wealthy individuals, such as Vital Voices. Charitable “slacktivism” as an alternative to paid advertisement is favored by companies like Proctor & Gamble, Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs, and many more.
The moral question is: “Is the third / nonprofit / charitable sector in the US accomplishing anything of value for society when so much expenditure accounts for alternative advertisement and promotion of economic exploitation?”
The Clinton Foundation may well be the worst exemplar if its two-decade acquisition of more than $2 billion, and nearly non-existent positive outcomes (i.e. “nothing to show for it”) are considered.
This is what I mean: much as federal and state-funded programs like SNAP (Food Stamps) and Medicaid supplement the low salaries paid by companies like WalMart and new “shared economy” businesses like Uber, the Clinton Foundation literally takes credit for being one of thousands of organizations operating a federal and state-funded energy retrofit program (HEAL).
For at least the past decade, fundraising professionals have had to deal with the massive movement of funds from private family foundations to investment firm-operated donor advised funds. Donor-advised funds offer significant tax benefits (up to 50% of AGI may be deducted vs. 30% for private foundations).
The average person is likely unaware that donor-advised funds do not have to distribute any money in a given tax year for the donor to deduct contributions to the fund.
Donor-advised funds topped $80 billion in assets in 2016, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. The largest donor-advised fund, operated by Fidelity Investments, received more donations than the United Way, the first time any single fund or organization has surpassed the joint-fundraising organization’s total. Over $22 billion was received in 2016; donor-advised funds made grants totaling $14.52 billion.
Rich people, the 1%, no longer contribute to charitable causes as they did 40 or 50 years ago. They just park excess money in “donor-advised funds.”
In plain English, a significant portion of the funds acquired by the top 1% in recent years have been contributed to donor-advised charitable funds, which are operated by paid employees of investment firms. Donors may “advise” the funds where their money should be contributed; the investment firm has the final say in any distribution decisions. The trend shows that expenditures from these funds represent about 50% of current-year contributions, indicating a high rate of capital growth; furthermore — there is little to no tie between investment fund employees, advisers, and conduct, and any local communities or other forms of “charitable need.”
The Fidelity fund, Goldman-Sachs, and others conduct and publicize programs, summits, and galas very similar to the Clinton Foundation.
Trump’s proposed tax plan is unlikely to be implemented; as with any other news about the Trump Administration, the signal-to-noise ratio is so poor that facts are hard to uncover. Ashley Ebeling reported in Forbes that a proposed dramatic increase in the threshold for a standard deduction (reducing the number of taxpayers using itemized deductions) is anticipated to reduce charitable contributions made for tax purposes. The proposal also caps charitable deductions at $100,000 for a single taxpayer, and $200,000 for couples. Amid all the noise, however, Trump’s tax proposal also mandates that donor-advised funds must make annual distributions rather than allowing the funds to accumulate while spending nothing, as many currently operate.
Although there are many thousands of views for my articles on the Clinton Foundation, little to nothing has been brought to the general public’s attention about the organization’s gross malfeasance, from ridiculously inconsistent reports of impossible, impractical outcomes, to “forgetting” to properly declare over $400 million dollars in foreign government grants on three years of tax returns.
The important lesson isn’t that Hillary Clinton gave State Department benefits to various dictators or shady foreign business magnates like Bill Clinton’s BFF and partner Canada’s “Poison Dwarf” Frank Giustra. It’s that such gross non-performance and mis-use of funds has not only been allowed, it’s been copied repeatedly, and after 20 years, it’s the standard now, not the exception.
The mis-handling of America’s third sector, the nonprofit and charitable portion of the economy, represents a significant reduction in economic output over the past two decades. Money going into donor-advised funds or massive, low-performing NGOs did not go to increased salaries for the 99% who work for a living, nor did they go to individuals in health, social, housing, education, or other need. They did not go to salaries of individuals providing education, health, social services, or building businesses, jobs or other opportunities. Most high-profile international NGOs hire people like Louise Linton and conduct “programs” to subsidize travel and interests of people like her husband, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. They have not been hiring or providing opportunity to recent social work graduates or socially-conscious development professionals. Instead, the investment class has outdone Nero in behavior, judgment, efficiency, ethics and stewardship.
In this process, Bill Clinton is the most significant actor, and his foundation, the exemplar, leader and standard-bearer. His invention of the Clinton Global Initiative, which holds gala meetings worldwide for ticket prices of $25,000 and up, is the ultimate in “insider trading” and benefits under the guise of “charity.”
Happy birthday, Bill Clinton. I estimate your Foundation lost $120 million in assets between December 2014 and December 2015 based on your own reports. Even with that crazy stock market, I can’t help but think: this trend continues. There is no longer any political or business reason to continue to give funds to you.
If This Were A Children’s Book
Moral of the story: Dolly Parton didn’t need to give away all those books. She could have just said she did. No one would be the wiser. She could have spent all the money on herself. But Dolly Parton is no liar.