Conflicts of Interest

Clinton Foundation to Ban Foreign, Corporate Donations If Hillary Elected

Former President Bill Clinton announced the changes to the foundation's staff on Thursday.

Updated on
Clinton Foundation Sets Hillary Victory Donation Ban

The Clinton Foundation will stop accepting contributions from corporations and foreign entities including governments if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it announced on Thursday.

The foundation will only take donations from U.S. citizens and independent charities if the former secretary of state wins the November election, former President Bill Clinton told staff as he outlined several changes to the foundation’s operations, some of which will take place even if Hillary Clinton loses. Corporate charities will also be barred from giving to the foundation. 

Former President Bill Clinton speaks on Aug. 12, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Former President Bill Clinton speaks on Aug. 12, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Regardless of the outcome of the election, September’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York—timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly—will be its last, the former president, who turns 70 on Friday, said. If his wife wins, there will be a wider overhaul of the foundation that could take as long as a year to finish.

The stricter rules are a compromise aimed at balancing ethical concerns about donor influence with the former president’s determination to preserve an entity that has been the focus of his post-White House years and that he sees as a key piece of his legacy in the U.S. and around the world.

The Associated Press earlier reported on the changes. Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian confirmed them.

Bill Clinton said at the staff meeting that he and daughter, Chelsea, were not responding to external pressure to create new donor rules and were instead moving proactively to avoid the appearance of misconduct if there is another Clinton presidency.

Just as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign launched in April 2015, the foundation stopped accepting donations from all but six foreign governments: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Other foreign governments that gave to the foundation before then included Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Brunei.

The latest changes are unlikely to satisfy critics. 

In a statement Thursday evening, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the foundation “should immediately cease accepting foreign donations and return every penny ever taken from other countries, several of which have atrocious human rights records and ties to terrorism.”

“This effort to shield Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation after more than a year of controversy is too little, too late,” Priebus said. “After all, if everything was above board while Hillary Clinton ran the State Department as the Clintons have said, then why change a thing?

At a town-hall meeting hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said the foundation should return money it has raised from countries with poor records on human rights.

"They should give the money back.  And I've been saying this for a long time," Trump said. "They should give the money back."

The Boston Globe editorial board said this week that the foundation should stop accepting donations for the rest of presidential campaign season and should completely shut down if Hillary Clinton wins.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a longtime Clinton ally, told the New York Daily News that the foundation should shut its doors if the Clintons return to the White House. “It’d be impossible to keep the foundation open without at least the appearance of a problem,” he said. 

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