Monday, February 8, 2016

Scandalous Clinton Foundation Audit Fiasco

Dipto Islam, Feb 8, 2016

On April 24, 2015, Common Cause, a liberal watchdog group, called on presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to commission an independent and thorough review of all large donations to the foundation and to release the results, citing concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of hidden overseas donors. Common Cause President Miles Rapoport said, “…..the Clinton Foundation violated an agreement to identify all of its donors. The foundation’s omissions create significant gaps in the information that voters need to make informed decisions at the polls.”

“There already is too much ‘dark money’ in our elections, in the form of spending by supposedly independent nonprofit groups that are not required to disclose their donors and operate as sort of shadow campaigns,” Rapoport said. “The Clinton Foundation and any other foundations tied to a candidate or his or her family provide one more way for potential donors to gain access and curry favor from candidates – without the public knowing about it. That lack of transparency creates a clear risk of undue influence and conflicts of interest.”

One of the donors to the Clinton Foundation includes Canadian company Uranium One.  The New York  Times reported that the Clinton Foundation received donations from Uranium One’s chairman which were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. The donations were given to the Clintons for Uranium One deal which eventually gave control of the Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West to the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom. The deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation.  In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said, “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless.”

In an article, “Shaky Foundations: The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends” for Harper’s Magazine, Silverstein, a Washington, D.C. based investigative reporter, writes: “After endless delays and excuses, the Clinton Foundation released its 2014 tax return as well as amended returns for the previous four years and an audit of its finances. That fulfilled a pledge made last April by Clinton Foundation acting CEO, Maura Pally, who acknowledged that the foundation had previously made a few unfortunate accounting ‘mistakes.’  He alleged that the Foundation so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich Clinton family friends…. and that the foundation donors and the Clintons’ political allies have won the focused attention of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State. The Clintons have used their foundation for crass profiteering and influence peddling, he alleged. He added that Clinton apologists will write these accusations off as conspiracy mongering and right-wing propaganda, but it’s an open secret to anyone remotely familiar with accounting and regulatory requirements for charities that the financial records are deliberately misleading. …

However, the Times’ reporting discovered that the Clinton Foundation had errors in its federal tax returns—forcing them to tell reporters the same thing as with the e-mails: there were unintended mistakes, they’re being fixed, there will be transparent. The Clinton Foundation's Acting Chief Executive Officer Maura Pally admitted that the charity had made mistakes on how it listed government donors on its tax returns and said it was working to make sure it does not happen in the future, Reuters reported.  

Common Cause President Miles Rapoport said, “Six years ago, at Mrs. Clinton’s confirmation hearing for her appointment as secretary of state, then-Sen. Dick Lugar observed that ‘that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state.’ He was right, and his remarks remain relevant today as Mrs. Clinton seeks the presidency.”

Watch MSNBC coverage of the Uranium One Deal controversy. 

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