It takes money to make money, especially if you want President Bill Clinton to appear at your charity fundraiser. According to The New York Times, Clinton only agreed to accept an award at a small charity that builds schools after they donated $500,000 to his much larger foundation.
When Petra Nemcova, model and founder of the Happy Hearts Fund, invited Clinton to be honored by her charity in 2011 and 2013, he reportedly declined. But when the group offered the donation, he accepted, according to an employee of the Nemcova charity who was fired after the gala.
“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” Sue Veres Royal, the former executive director of the Happy Hearts Fund, told The Times. Royal was dismissed a few weeks after the event "amid conflicts over the gala and other issues," according to The Times.
Royal said later that after the initial rejections Nemcova met with the Clinton Foundation. After that meeting "[Nemcova] called me and said we have to include an honorarium for him—that they don’t look at these things unless money is offered, and it has to be $500,000," Royal said. The Press Departments for both the Happy Hearts Fund and the Clinton Foundation denied the allegations, and said the Clinton Foundation did not solicit a donation and the $500,000 will be used for projects in Haiti.
The Times story comes after a string of bad press and negative books about the Clinton foundation and President Clinton's speech money, from those implying pay for play schemes involving Hillary Clinton's work in the State Department to unreported foreign donor data. The Times story doesn't imply that the Clinton's did anything illegal so much as distasteful. The $500,000 donation came out of the $2.5 million the charity raised that night, and funnelled money away from a small charity that rebuilds schools after natural disasters to a much larger group. (Nemcova, who signed personal modelling contracts with sponsors of her charity, then invited one sponsor to sell luxury goods at the charity's fundraiser, doesn't come off well, either.)
Stories like this also hurt one of the arguments for the Clinton Foundation, which is that it's a charity, not a political organization or a personal business. If, as the Times story suggests, the Clintons expect a quid pro quo arrangement to help another charity, that helps the Clinton's opponents argue that the foundation is self-serving. For example, in an email to reporters on the Times story, RNC spokesman Michael Short wrote that "[w]ith revelations like these, the Clinton Foundation is looking more like a high class racket than a charity."
Still, the Clinton campaign doesn't think the bad press will affect Bill Clinton's ability to help on the trail. Politico reported Thursday night that Bill and Chelsea Clinton will make their first appearance on the campaign trail on June 13, after Hillary Clinton's first rally, according campaign officials.