AP Presents Blatant Falsehood About Clinton Charity As An Open Question

The Associated Press presented Sen. Rand Paul's false attack that “almost none” of the Clinton Foundation's spending goes to charity as an unresolved, open question. But experts say the Clinton Foundation's charitable spending is “very good” by industry standards, and attacks like Paul's are “simply wrong” and amount “to a misunderstanding of how public charities work.”

AP Presents Clinton Foundation Falsehood As An Open Question

AP: Rand Paul Said “Almost None Of” The Clinton Foundation's “Money Went To Charity.” The Associated Press repeated Paul's false claim about the Clinton Foundation in an August 19 profile of the Republican presidential candidate:

He condemned Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose family foundation has raised more than $30 million for Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.

“To me the most disgusting thing about the Clinton foundation is almost none of their money went to charity,” Paul said, suggesting that only 6 percent of the Clinton Global Initiative's revenue went to charitable grants.

The AP presented Paul's claim as a 'he said, she said,' subsequently writing that a Clinton Foundation spokesperson “didn't respond to a request for comment. The group previously said grants make up only a small fraction of its charitable work, which is largely handled by staff.” [Associated Press, 8/19/15]

Paul's Clinton Foundation Claim Is False, As Several News Outlets And Fact-Checking Organizations Have Noted

FactCheck.org: 6 Percent Figure “Is Simply Wrong.” FactCheck.org examined claims that “so little” of the Clinton Foundation's money went to charity, including the allegation that just “6 percent of its annual revenues” went to charitable endeavors. They concluded such an attack is “wrong, and amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work” (emphasis added):

Considering all of the organizations affiliated with the Clinton Foundation, [Daniel Borochoff, president and founder of CharityWatch] said, CharityWatch concluded about 89 percent of its budget is spent on programs. That's the amount it spent on charity in 2013, he said.

We looked at the consolidated financial statements (see page 4) and calculated that in 2013, 88.3 percent of spending was designated as going toward program services -- $196.6 million out of $222.6 million in reported expenses.

We can't vouch for the effectiveness of the programming expenses listed in the report, but it is clear that the claim that the Clinton Foundation only steers 6 percent of its donations to charity is wrong, and amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work. [FactCheck.org, 6/19/15]

Wash. Post: According To CharityWatch, “The Foundation Spends About 89 Percent Of Its Money On Its Charitable Mission.” The Washington Post wrote of the Clinton Foundation in June:

Overall, the foundation spends about 89 percent of its money on its charitable mission, according to the independent American Institute of Philanthropy. Based on that analysis, the watchdog group gave the foundation a rating of A for 2013, on a scale that goes to A-plus. Charity Navigator, the other leading group that rates charities, recently put the foundation on a “watch list” because of the negative press that has surrounded it. (That group has not issued a rating for the Clinton Foundation, saying the foundation's structure is too complex to grade.) [Washington Post6/2/15]

PolitiFact: Clinton Foundation “Keeps Its Money In House And Hires Staff To Carry Out Its Own Humanitarian Programs.” The fact-checking website's PunditFact section debunked claims that the Clinton Foundation devotes very little to charitable efforts, writing:

When most people in the charitable world think of foundations, they think of organizations that give away a lot of money in the form of grants to others who go out and do good works. The Clinton foundation works differently -- it keeps its money in house and hires staff to carry out its own humanitarian programs.


To offer some context, spending 88 percent of expenses on charitable programs, as the Clinton foundation says it does, would actually be pretty good by industry standards. Parsons said the average reported across all organizations in the National Center for Charitable Statistics is 81 percent -- equal to the Clinton Foundation's rate on its own -- and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance suggests a minimum of 65 percent. “The foundation exceeds that,” [Linda Parsons, an associate professor of accounting at the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Commerce] said. [PolitiFact.com, 4/29/15]

Fox News: Experts Say Clinton Foundation's Charitable Spending Percentage Is “Very Good.” Fox News correspondent Eric Shawn debunked his colleagues' attacks on Clinton Foundation spending, reporting that claims that the foundation gives roughly 10 percent of its money raised to charitable endeavors is “actually incredibly misleading”:

BILL O'REILLY: OK. Also, the accusation is that only 10 percent of the money raised, and it's $2 billion, goes to grants out to poor people or institutions.

SHAWN: That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading because it's the way the charity works. They don't give grants to other charities. They do most of it themselves. So that they actually have a rate of spending of about 80 percent, according to the IRS figures -- they say 88 percent. You know, Bill, the experts for charity say that's very good. They usually want a charity to give about 80 percent.

O'REILLY: OK, so their own people, whom they hire, do the work in Haiti, do the work in the other third world nations paid by the Clinton Foundation themselves. So this is going in for infrastructure, for salaries, for travel, for them to do the charitable work rather than giving it to somebody else.

SHAWN: Or partners that they work with as opposed to being a charity that just gives.

O'REILLY: All right. So right now, the amount of the money of the $2 billion going out is OK?

SHAWN: Yeah, it's pretty good, yeah, according to the experts. Yeah.

O'REILLY: So that's 20 percent is left over is a lot of money left over.

SHAWN: Yeah. For a staple. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/6/15, via Media Matters