Pay-to-play and influence-peddling schemes have not gone away; But money could be short
By Richard Pollack
Clinton Foundation officials were able to attract only five new donors between July 1 and September 30 — the controversial charity’s third quarter — The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.
Foundation officials delayed release of the quarterly report of its latest donors on its website until the after the Nov. 8 presidential election, which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost to Republican rival Donald Trump.
The low number of new donors may indicate potential contributors were frightened away by repeated news reports that the Clinton charity is under FBI investigation regarding multiple allegations of “pay-to-play” influence-peddling schemes involving both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, as well as their key political aides.
“A lot of questions have been raised, and I think donors are understandably cautious about getting involved with this deeply troubled charity,” Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and philanthropy expert, told The DCNF.
Mitchell said the foundation should shut its doors because it is a “sham charitable organization.” The foundation has been at the center of virtually continuous controversies about its funding and programs since its 1997 founding, thanks in great part to its accepting contributions from foreign governments, politically powerful billionaires and troubled banks.Among the foundation’s newest institutional donors is Banc of California, which is embroiled in a scandal that unfolded in the summer about the same time it gave between $1 to $5 million to the Clinton charity. The foundation only reports ranges for donor amounts.
The Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 16 that the bank — a favorite of West Coast liberals — has“been rocked by allegations that it is connected to a convicted con artist.” The bank notified the SEC the same day that its third quarter report was delayed “to allow for completion of a review into certain purported improper relationships and related party transactions.”
Another new foreign donor was British financier Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who gave between $1 to $5 million through his U.K.-based Eranda Rothschild Foundation. It has $6.3 million in assets.
Rothschild, an heir to the Rothschild fortune, married Lynn Forester, whose previous husband was Andrew Stein, former Democratic Manhattan Borough President. The Clintons invited the newly married couple to sleep as their guests in the White House
Lynn Rothschild hosted a $100,000-per-couple fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated 2016 campaign at the couple’s posh Martha’s Vineyard home. Thirty couples reportedly attended.
Another new third quarter foreign donor was billionaire Frank Rainieri, who is one of the 10 richest people in the Dominican Republic. Since 2000, the Clinton’s have called Rainieri’s Punta Cana DR resort, “one of their favorite resorts.”
Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton spent Easter at a Rainieri resort. It is unknown if the Clintons pay for their vacations at Rainieri’s resorts.
Rainieri was invited in December 2014 to participate in the Clinton Foundation’s “Future of the Americas” conference in Miami. He contributed between $250,000 and $500,000 to the foundation.
Foreign governments began either sharply reducing contributions to the Clinton Foundation or launching investigations of them in 2016. The Daily Caller reported Sunday that the Norwegian government’s planned contribution to the Clinton Foundation in 2017 will be cut nearly 90 percent.
Two weeks ago, two Dutch parliament members used the Parliament’s “Chamber Questions” period to force the government to explain the Netherlands’ $3 million contribution to an entity called the “Clinton Development Initiative” that was supposed to help Malawi farmers use “climate-smart agriculture.”
Although the project was launched in 2013, there are no independent Malawian media reports about the initiative or its progress. The Clinton Foundation website has promoted the initiative as a success story.
The Embassy of Malawi was unable to put The DCNF in touch with anybody familiar with the initiative.
Two wealthy Americans made third quarter contributions to the foundation. Michael Sacks, CEO of Chicago-based financial investment firm Grosvenor Capital Partners, gave between $1 to $5 million through his private family foundation.
Sacks is one of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “go-to” advisors. “Rahm gives Michael assignments,” according to Obama chief campaign strategist David Axelrod. Grosvenor is one of the country’s largest investment firms, second only to financial giant Blackrock.
“Grosvenor is probably the most important company in this city that nobody’s ever heard of,” said William Atwood in a glowing Sacks profile in Chicago Magazine. Attwood is executive director of the Illinois state pension fund that gives investment money to Grosvenor.
The foundation’s final new third quarter donor was Bobby Sager, who owns a $10 billion financial services company and gave between $100,000 to $250,000 to the foundation. He runs an eccentric family fund called the Sager Family Traveling Foundation & Roadshow.
An example of his off-beat projects is “Science for Monks,” which his website says “represents for the first time in the approximately 1,500-year history of Tibetan Buddhism that Western science is being taught in the monasteries.”
Despite the paucity of new donors, the foundation saw the return of multiple previously controversial donors, notably including Vinod Gupta, who gave between $1 to $5 million. Gupta was booted out by the SEC as his firm’s CEO as a result of $9 million in unauthorized corporate spending on luxury goods, yachts and vacations, including $3.3 million in contracts to Bill Clinton and $900,000 in free private jet use.
Also returning was GEMS Education, the Middle East-based company that operates schools across the region, which contributed between $1 to $5 million in the third quarter. GEMS previously paid Bill Clinton $5.6 million as its “honorary chairman.”
The new donors gave from $100,000 to $5 million.
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
Business-model collapse? Clinton Foundation donations fell 37% in 2015
POSTED AT 8:01 PM ON NOVEMBER 21, 2016 BY ED MORRISSEY
The headline from the New York Post on the falling fortunes of the Clinton Foundation doesn’t quite do this story justice. The foundation took a big hit in donations, which might make sense for a pay-to-play operation after the defeat of its high-profile namesake in a presidential election, or her departure from office earlier. This, however, is neither; the collapse in support came in 2015:
Donations to the Clinton Foundation nose-dived last year amid Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, pay-to-play allegations, internal strife and a black mark from a charity watchdog.
Contributions fell by 37 percent to $108 million, down from $172 million in 2014, according to the group’s latest tax filings.
The cash plummeted as Hillary Clinton left the nonprofit in April 2015 after announcing her ill-fated candidacy. The foundation became a major issue in the race, with Donald Trump vowing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate it.
The Clintons’ earnings on the speaking circuit took a big hit in 2015, too:
Not only did contributions drop, but so did revenue the Clintons brought in from speeches. That income fell to $357,500 from $3.6 million in 2014.
That’s more explainable in the context of a presidential primary campaign. Even without the Clintons’ baggage, there would be very little opportunity to pursue a professional speaking career while running for president. It takes every opportunity to raise funds, connect with donors in other ways, and to meet and greet voters to succeed. Plus, Democrats began complaining very early in 2015 about speaking fees demanded by both Hillary and Bill from colleges and universities, and any kind of engagement at all from the financial sector. They put their lucrative speaking circuits on hold in order to tamp down criticism of their business model.
The drop in Clinton Foundation revenues seems a little more mysterious. Hillary left the State Department in early 2013, and her presidential ambitions were hardly a secret. Cash poured into those coffers throughout 2014 as people sought to gain access and influence with a potential future president. By 2015, though, both Hillary and Bill had to distance themselves from the foundation, both to keep it at arms’ length politically and to focus on the election campaign. Did donors really get scared off by the allegations of pay-to-play, or just lost interest because they had less ability to connect with Hillary and Bill?
That’s no longer a problem. Hillary and Bill have all the time in the world now to run their family foundation, and to get back on the speaking circuit — assuming they want to do so any longer, and that the rent-seeking institutions that wrote them the biggest checks still see them as worthy of investment. However, we won’t really know whether the Clinton Foundation model will survive a lack of access to power until after 2017’s tax returns are made public two years from now. If their donors keep pushing cash into their high-overhead operations in the year after the Clintons got booted from power for good, then perhaps we can assume that their magic works in the non-profit world on its own. Given the sponsor flight from the Clinton Global Initiative over the past couple of years and the ethical dark shadows that continue to swirl around the foundation, it seems unlikely to be the case. And by that time, few will probably care anyway.
Tags: Bill Clinton, business model, Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Development Initiative, Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Frank Rainieri, Gems Education, Grosvenor Capital Partners, Hillary Clintin, Lynn Forester, Michael Sacks, Pay to Play Business-Model Collapses, pay-to-play, Rahm Emanuel, Rainieri’s Punta Cana DR resort, Vinod Gupta, West Coast liberals