The Huge Media Failure Behind The Latest Clinton Global Initiative Pseudo-Scandal

The Huge Media Failure Behind The Latest Clinton Global Initiative Pseudo-Scandal

Despite Reporting, Bahraini Crown Prince Didn’t Give $32 Million To CGI

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

Numerous media outlets covering released State Department emails pushed by the conservative group Judicial Watch falsely claimed that Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain gave the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) tens of millions of dollars, which they suggested was linked to him meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, none of the money in question went to the Clinton Global Initiative -- the crown prince made a “Commitment to Action” to fund the scholarship program at a Clinton Global Initiative event, and the money raised from business donors in Bahrain and elsewhere went to the crown prince’s scholarship program to educate Bahraini students.

Media Outlets Incorrectly Report Crown Prince Salman Was A Clinton Foundation Donor Who Gave $32 Million To The Foundation Or Clinton Global Initiative

AP: “Crown Prince Salman Had In 2005 Made A $32 Million Commitment To The Clinton Global Initiative, A Program Run By The Foundation.” [The Associated Press, 8/22/16]

Sacramento Bee Editorial: Crown Prince Salman’s Scholarship Program “Gave $32 Million To The Clinton Global Initiative.” [The Sacramento Bee, 8/22/16]

USA Today: Salman’s Scholarship Program “Had Contributed $32 Million To The Clinton Global Initiative.” [USA Today, 8/23/16]

The Hill: Salman Committed “More Than $32 Million By 2010” To “A Scholarship Program For The Clinton Global Initiative.” [The Hill, 8/22/16]

LA Times: Crown Prince Of Bahrain’s “Donations To The Foundation Would Eventually Total More Than $32 Million.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/22/16]

NY Daily News: Crown Prince Of Bahrain “Has Given More Than $32 Million To The Clinton Global Initiative.” [New York Daily News, 8/23/16]

AL.com: “The Prince Gave $32 Million To The Clinton Foundation.” [AL.com, 8/23/16]

Boston Herald Editorial: Crown Prince Salman Was A “$32 Million Donor To The Clinton Global Initiative.” [Boston Herald, 8/23/16]

CNN: “The Crown Prince’s Charity Donated $32 Million For A Program Run Through The Clinton Global Initiative.” [CNN.com, 8/23/16]

The Telegraph: Crown Prince Salman’s “Scholarship Programme Had By 2010 Reportedly Committed As Much As $32 Million To” The Clinton Foundation. [The Telegraph, 8/23/16]

Politico: “Salman’s Scholarship Program … Committed More Than $32 Million To The Clinton Global Initiative.” [Politico, 8/22/16]

Crown Prince Made Commitment At 2005 CGI Event To Raise Money To Educate Bahraini Students Through His International Scholarship Program

Crown Prince Made Commitment At 2005 CGI Event To Raise Millions Of Dollars “To Finance The Education Of Young Bahrainis” Through His Scholarship Program. The Clinton Foundation’s website explains that “in 2005, the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program (CPISP) committed to educate select Bahraini students to take leadership roles in the private and public sectors.” This involved “Pledging to raise million (sic) over the next ten years to finance the education of young Bahrainis to enable them to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees through the Crown Prince's International Scholarship Program.” [Clinton Foundation, accessed 8/24/16]

Funding Went To The Scholarship Program, Not CGI, And Came From Private Company Contributions. Progress reports from 2005 through 2010 show that the commitment “significantly exceeded the $32 million original target” to fund the scholarship program. They show that millions were raised over the years from “large Bahrain based companies” and other private companies. [Clinton Foundation, accessed 8/24/16]

CGI “Commitments To Action” Are Not Donations To The Clinton Foundation Or CGI, And Are Not Funding Commitments By CGI

CGI “Does Not Engage In The Actual Implementation Of Commitments.” The Clinton Foundation’s website explains that a CGI “Commitment to Action,” like the crown prince’s commitment to raising funds to educate Bahraini students, “is a plan for addressing a significant global challenge” often through “cross-sector partnerships.” The website also explains that “CGI serves as a catalyst for action, but does not engage in the actual implementation of commitments”:

A Commitment to Action—the defining feature of CGI—is a plan for addressing a significant global challenge. Commitments can be small or large and financial or nonmonetary in nature. Many commitments are the result of cross-sector partnerships, with CGI members combining efforts to expand their impact. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,500 commitments which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

CGI supports the development of commitments by facilitating dialogue, providing opportunities to identify partners, showcasing the actions taken by commitment-makers, and communicating results. CGI serves as a catalyst for action, but does not engage in the actual implementation of commitments. [Clinton Foundation, accessed 8/24/16]

CGI: “A Commitment To Action Is Not A Financial Contribution To CGI.” The Clinton Global Initiative explains that "Commitments to Action," or what Bahrain’s crown prince pledged, are “not a financial contribution to CGI” but instead “a detailed plan of action” to address a global challenge:

Commitment Development

A Commitment to Action is not a financial contribution to CGI. Rather, it is a detailed plan of action for addressing an issue such as climate change, poverty, or access to health care. Commitments must meet three basic criteria: they must be new, specific, and measurable. While some members join CGI with a clear idea for a commitment, others work closely with their relationship managers to develop their goals and plan projects. Our staff is available throughout the year to discuss ideas and approaches and help members explore partnership opportunities, which may include joining an existing CGI commitment. [Clinton Foundation, accessed 8/24/16]

Devex: “CGI Is Not A Funding Organization.” A September 2013 Devex Impact article on the Clinton Global Initiative explained that “CGI is not a funding organization, like the World Bank, and it is not an implementing agency, like WFP. It is unique in its mission and structure.” The article quoted CGI director of communications Elsa Palanza, who described CGI as a catalytic platform where its members can engage “in sort of a marketplace of ideas with one another.” [Devex Impact, 9/16/13]

There Is No Record Of Crown Prince Salman Donating To The Clinton Foundation

Kingdom Of Bahrain Donated Up To $100,000 In Clinton Global Initiative Membership Fees. A search of the Clinton Foundation’s list of contributor information shows the Kingdom of Bahrain listed under donors of between $50,001 to $100,000, with a marking that “indicated contributions exclusively for CGI activities such as memberships, sponsorships, and conference fees.” [Clinton Foundation, accessed 8/24/16]

Washington Post’s Searchable Index Of Clinton Foundation Donors Shows No Results For Crown Prince Salman Or His Scholarship Program. A searchable index of Clinton Foundation donors provided by The Washington Post shows no matching results for any part of Crown Prince Salman’s name or that of his Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program. [The Washington Post, 2/26/15]

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