Media are falsely equating donations to the Clinton Foundation with contributions to a Democratic political campaign. That comparison ignores that the foundation is expressly nonpartisan, and numerous Republicans and conservative media figures have supported the foundation's work.
The Clinton Foundation states that it builds “partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere” on “improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth, or helping communities address the effects of climate change.”
The foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, which means it is “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
The foundation has been under attack in recent months while Hillary Clinton has ramped up her presidential campaign. This May, Republican activist Peter Schweizer released the error-riddled Clinton Cash, which purports (but fails) to show how foundation donations affected Clinton's decisions during her time as secretary of state. And ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos correctly apologized on May 14 for failing to disclose that he had donated to the Clinton Foundation before conducting an interview with Schweizer about the foundation.
For example, Paul Waldman, an American Prospect senior writer and former Media Matters senior fellow, criticized Politico reporter Dylan Byers for drawing a misleading “parallel between donating to a candidate's campaign and donating to a charitable foundation run by an ex-president.”
Other media figures have similarly made the false political campaign comparison. Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, Breitbart.com, National Review Online, and HotAir.com, all suggested a donation to the foundation was equivalent to financing Democratic candidates.
As Waldman explained at The Washington Post, “it's notable that everyone is now treating the Clinton Foundation as if it has long been central to sort of scheme to personally benefit the Clintons, and not a charitable foundation.” He added that “judging by the way the foundation is now talked about -- as if anyone who has had any association with it is tainted -- you'd think it was running a network of international assassins instead of distributing malaria medication.”
Syndicated columnist Joe Conason similarly wrote that commentators are now attempting to “confidently denounce the entire operation as suspect,” even though the foundation has produced “significant achievements” on programs such as combating HIV/AIDS.
Moreover, the attempts to paint the Clinton Foundation as a political organizing group for the Democrats are even more dubious when examining the organization's history and supporters.
Conservative-Connected Clinton Foundation Donors
Numerous individuals and entities that don't fit the model for Democratic Party donors have donated to the Clinton Foundation. For instance:
- Newsmax Media, Inc. The media company, which has billed itself as operating the "#1 Conservative Site in the Nation," has made donations to the Clinton Foundation of between $100,001 to $250,000 and between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.
- Donald J. Trump. Trump, a perennial-potential Republican presidential candidate, donated between $100,001 to $250,000 to the foundation.
- Richard M. Scaife. The late Scaife, who published the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, was described as “one of America's leading funders of conservative causes.” He donated between $250,001 to $500,000 to the foundation.
- News Corporation Foundation. The foundation for News Corp., which is headed by Rupert Murdoch and was formerly the parent company of Fox News, donated between $500,001 to $1,000,000 to the foundation.
- James R. Murdoch. Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox and son of Rupert Murdoch, donated between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.
High-Profile Republicans Have Supported The Clinton Foundation's Efforts
Many Republican Party-affiliated individuals have attended and supported Clinton Foundation-affiliated events, including the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meetings. They include former first lady Laura Bush, Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Republican billionaire T. Boone Pickens, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Bush Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, and former first daughter Barbara Bush.
Romney spoke to CGI in the middle of his 2012 presidential campaign and praised President Clinton for having “devoted himself to lifting the downtrodden around the world. One of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate.” He added: “I have been impressed by the extraordinary power you have derived by harnessing together different people of different backgrounds, and different institutions of different persuasions. You have fashioned partnerships across traditional boundaries -- public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, charitable and commercial.”
McCain spoke to CGI in September 2008 during his own presidential run, and also praised its efforts, stating: “You know something about great change at the Clinton Global Initiative, because you are striving every day to bring it about. I thank each one of you for the good work you have done to relieve suffering across the earth, and to spread hope. I thank you for the even greater works that you seek to accomplish in the years to come, under the leadership of the man from Hope.”
Laura Bush appeared at CGI in 2006 and said she was “delighted to be a part of this year's Clinton Global Initiative. Thank you for inviting me, and thank you for the terrific development work you're doing through your foundation.”
Newsmax CEO and editor Christopher Ruddy recently praised the foundation for helping “improve global health and wellness, increase economic opportunities for women in less-developed nations, reduce childhood obesity, and spur economic growth in countries that desperately need the help.”