Bill and Hillary Clinton faced more than 200 conflict of interest reviews of their speaking engagements and the former president's business relationships around the world that netted the couple an estimated $48 million during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State.As scrutiny over a reported influx of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation ramps up, the State Department ethics
Bill and Hillary Clinton faced more than 200 conflict of interest reviews of their speaking engagements and the former president's business relationships around the world that netted the couple an estimated $48 million during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State.
As scrutiny over a reported influx of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation ramps up, the State Department ethics reviews — first reported last July in a joint investigation by theWashington Examiner and the nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch — add another layer to the growing controversy over the revenue stream of the powerful couple’s philanthropy machine.
The Clinton foundation has received more than $2 billion in contributions from wealthy individuals, political donors, corporations and countries around the world since its founding in 2001, according to a new report in the Washington Post. Included in the total is $262 million raised in 2013, the same year the State Department conflicts of interest reviews were conducted.
What’s more, nearly half of donors to the Ready For Hillary political advocacy group and her 2008 campaign bundlers have given at least $10,000 to the foundation, according to the Post.
Scrutiny of the Clintons and their charitable activities is growing more intense as Hillary Clinton prepares to make a second run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Campaign finance laws prevent foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation from also giving directly to U.S. political candidates.
The 215 ethics reviews from Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic term focused on whether former President Clinton’s compensation for speeches in China, Russia, Turkey and many other countries posed a conflict of interest to the secretary of state. All 215 reviews yielded rulings of “no objection” from the State Department.
But Bill Clinton delivered a number of the speaking appearances in contentious regions of the world at the behest of groups with foreign policy interests in the U.S., the Examiner reported in July.
The litany of ethics reviews raises questions about whether the Clinton Foundation helped the former president and first lady earn millions from entities that may have hoped to sway the secretary of state in their favor by cutting a check to her husband.
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch also detailed a short-lived consulting deal between the Clintons and a firm headed by an adviser to their foundation, Doug Band. The contract with Band’s company, Teneo Strategies, received a green light from the State Department but was ended after just eight months amid a firestorm of criticism over its ties to failed investment firm IMF Global.
Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton advocate whose involvement in imbroglios from the Monica Lewinsky affair to the Benghazi attack has been highly publicized, was routinely copied on memos approving Bill Clinton’s engagements.
Potential conflicts of interest abound in records of the former president’s speeches during Mrs. Clinton’s time in Foggy Bottom, but the “designated agency ethics official” charged with screening the paid appearances never once voiced concerns, according to the documents.
For example, Bill Clinton earned $1.7 million off a series of speeches in China or to Chinese-sponsored groups in the years after his wife assumed the cabinet position and signed the ethics agreement.
But he earned just $1.4 million in the entire period between 2001 and 2007 from Chinese engagements, when he was fresh from the White House and presumably in higher demand.
At the same time, Hillary Clinton championed a “pivot to Asia” policy initiative that held China as its centerpiece.
The latest revelations in the Post highlight the multiple problems created for the Hillary Clinton campaign as a result of the couple's vast networks of contacts and supporters.
Also last year, the Examiner reported on the financial relationship between former Obama White House senior counselor John Podesta and Hans Wyss, a reclusive Swiss billionaire whose former company conducted illegal human drug experiments that killed three people. Podesta was a paid consultant to Wyss and received substantial support from Wyss for the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by Podesta.