Despite baseless right-wing claims that the Clinton Foundation operates as a “slush fund” to “enrich the Clintons,” two leading charity watchdog groups have given the foundation the highest possible marks for “financial health … accountability and transparency.”
Charity Watchdogs Give Clinton Foundation “High Marks”
AP: Charity Navigator Awards Clinton Foundation “Four Out Of Four Stars.” The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Charity Navigator, a “leading and respected” charity watchdog group that has also been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, gave the Clinton Foundation “four out of four stars — the highest rating that Charity Navigator gives after a close look at a charity's finances.” The AP noted that the foundation’s score of “94.74 out of 100,” determined by “a fixed algorithm,” was “based on annual federal tax documents,” the organization’s “financial health … and their accountability and transparency.” The AP also noted that Charity Navigator put the Clinton Foundation on a watchlist in 2015 because of concerns about “donations from foreign governments,” but it removed the foundation from that list in December “after the foundation amended its tax returns and clarified its position on foreign donations.” Most charities graded by Charity Navigator “get a three-star rating,” according to the AP:
A charity watchdog with an ongoing relationship with the Clinton Foundation gave the former first family's nonprofit high marks Thursday, after an evaluation prompted by the heightened interest in the organization.
The Clinton Foundation received four out of four stars — the highest rating that Charity Navigator gives after a close look at a charity's finances. The rating is based on annual federal tax documents.
The watchdog had previously rated the Clinton Foundation with four stars in 2007, and in 2012 downgraded it to three stars due to changes in its methodology. Its original four-star rating was based on the foundation's financial health and performance. In 2012, it also evaluated the charity on accountability and transparency. Charity Navigator requires five independent board members, but the foundation had only three during the 2009 fiscal year, Thatcher said. The downgrade came the same year that Charity Navigator was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
The Clinton Foundation and Clinton campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
Charity Navigator currently evaluates 8,351 charities, and most get a three-star rating.
Charity Navigator stopped rating the Clinton Foundation entirely in 2014 because it said changes in the foundation's business structure were incompatible with the way Charity Navigator calculates its ratings. After what Thatcher described as “unprecedented demand” based on searches for the Clinton Foundation on the watchdog's website and requests from outside organizations, including news media, Charity Navigator asked the foundation to consolidate its tax forms in a way the watchdog could evaluate it. That led to Thursday's four-star rating. [The Associated Press, 9/1/16]
Wash. Post: Charity Navigator Said Clinton Foundation’s Inclusion on Watch List “Did Not Necessarily Indicate Problems.” The Washington Post reported in December that Charity Navigator had removed the Clinton Foundation from the watch list nine months after including it on that list. It also noted that the charity watchdog “indicated that an organization's appearance on the [watch] list did not necessarily indicate problems. Instead, it said that charities are placed on the list if media coverage raises questions about their operations that might be of interest to potential donors.” [The Washington Post, 12/22/15]
CharityWatch Rates Clinton Foundation Higher Than The Red Cross. CharityWatch awarded the Clinton Foundation an “A” rating, which is “based on the Foundation's audited consolidated financial statements.” For comparison, the American Red Cross received an “A-” rating from CharityWatch. [CharityWatch, April 2016. August 2016]
Nevertheless, Right-Wing Media Have Dubbed Clinton Foundation A “Money-Laundering Operation”
Wash. Times’ Monica Crowley: Clinton Foundation Is “A Money-Laundering Operation To Enrich The Clintons.” Washington Times columnist and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley claimed that “the Clinton Foundation has always been an epic hustle,” alleging that it “has essentially been a money laundering operation to enrich the Clintons and also to develop a massive war chest for [Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s] 2016 presidential run.” Crowley also baselessly speculated that millions of dollars flowed from the Clinton Foundation to “administrative and travel costs, salaries and bonuses, particularly for Clinton family and friends.” From the August 25 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
MONICA CROWLEY: Look, the Clinton Foundation has always been an epic hustle. This has essentially been a money-laundering operation to enrich the Clintons and also to develop a massive war chest for her 2016 presidential run. In 2013, the Clinton Foundation -- the paperwork was exposed, and what we found was that the foundation took in over $140 million, Sean, and only spent about $9 million on direct aid. The rest of it went to administrative and travel costs, salaries and bonuses, particularly for Clinton family and friends.
The Charity Navigator website, which is a prestigious charity watchdog, took a look at this. They put the Clinton Foundation on their watch list because it was so problematic that they sacked it along with Al Sharpton's National Action Network. The Clinton Foundation has never been audited, either by the IRS or by an independent accounting authority. So nobody actually knows what's in there. This is textbook corruption, and every time the Clintons are presented with the evidence from Peter Schweizer or from the Associated Press, they constantly deflect by saying, well, there's no direct evidence. Sean, most criminal cases are decided on circumstantial evidence, and as Peter Schweizer's work has shown, the AP's work has shown, there are mountains of circumstantial evidence that the Clintons engaged in corruption. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/25/16]
Wash. Post’s Charles Krauthammer: Clinton Foundation Is A “Gigantic Slush Fund.” Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that the Clinton Foundation is a “gigantic slush fund that we know was used by the Clintons to advance themselves” and baselessly speculated that the Clintons may have used “[supposedly] charitable money for self-dealing.” From the May 16 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Using a charity for private gain to help your friends, to employ your friends, I don't think this is right.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I have thought from the very beginning, and I have said this a lot, especially on Special Report, that the big scandal is not the emails necessarily, but it is the scandal having to do with the so-called charity, which is really a slush fund, hiring the hangers-oners, doing favors or what appear to be favors, and that's the real story. I’ve speculated -- this is pure speculation -- but I’ve wondered what was in the 30,000 emails that she deleted. She said it had to do with wedding preparations and all this stuff. I suspect if those were ever recovered, if you were deleting emails, what you'd want to delete is any evidence of favoritism or the use of this suppositable (sic) charitable money for self-dealing. I don't know what's in there. The press has touched on this here and there, but the real story is the gigantic slush fund that we know was used by the Clintons to advance themselves. Yes, a few good causes, but if you wanted to help the victims of Haiti's earthquake, you wouldn't actually think the best place to do it is to pick up the phone and to call the Clintons. You might actually call the Haitian embassy and gave the money directly. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 5/16/16]
Fox Regular Rudy Giuliani: “The Clinton Foundation Was A Slush Fund For The Clinton Political Machine.” Fox regular Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed, “Every single one of the organizations that rates charities rates [the Clinton Foundation] as pretty close to a fraud,” calling the foundation a “slush fund for the Clinton political machine.” From the August 10 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:
RUDY GIULIANI: Every single one of the organizations that rates charities rates this charity as pretty close to a fraud. One has it down to about 10 percent goes to charity. So, what is it going for? Plane rides for Bill and Hillary, taking care of all of their people, like trying to get a job for that guy. This is placing your political people -- the Clinton Foundation was a slush fund for the Clinton political machine. It was where to place the Clinton politicos while they were getting ready to run for president. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/10/16]
Fox’s Jeanine Pirro: Clinton Foundation Is A “Money-Laundering Operation.” Fox host Jeanine Pirro claimed the Clinton Foundation is “nothing more than money-laundering operation that was used as slush fund” and alleged, “No charitable foundation has only 10 percent that goes to a charity, and that money is used as a slush fund eventually.” From the August 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Let’s talk a little bit about this. Mainstream media all about Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the founders of ISIS. They don't seem to be going too much into this whole pay-for-play thing where it looks like if you wanted access to the State Department under Hillary Clinton you just gave them a bunch of dough. And now there’s a story that her chief of staff in 2012 left the State Department for a day, came to New York City to interview somebody for the Clinton Foundation. There was supposed to be a line of division there. Apparently not.
JEANINE PIRRO: Remember, as you said, Steve, there's an M.O.U. with the president, where Hillary Clinton said that there would be this wall between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. Now we find out that there are 12,000 emails from the Clinton Foundation to the State Department, essentially making sure that people who paid the Clintons -- and I'm not even going the say the foundation, because that is nothing more than money-laundering operation that was used as slush fund. It is not a charitable foundation. No charitable foundation has only 10 percent that goes to a charity, and that money is used as a slush fund eventually. And Huma and Cheryl Mills are the ones who are the dogs protecting the organization. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/12/16]
Fox’s Steve Doocy: Charity Watchdog Group Says The Clinton Foundation “Operates Like A Slush Fund.” Fox host Steve Doocy claimed that an unspecified “watchdog group refers to the Clinton operation saying it operates like a slush fund for the Clintons.” From the August 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Keep in mind, Charity Navigator, which is one of the finest organizations out there to figure out whether or not a charity is --
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Legit.
DOOCY: Yeah, good, is worthwhile. They, a year or two ago, put the Clinton Foundation on a watch list for suspicious charities. And in fact, another watchdog group refers to the Clinton operation saying it operates like a slush fund for the Clintons. And that is the problem. Because now the press is starting to wake up and realize, hey, something smells funny here. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/25/16]