Bill Clinton is facing criticism for how his staff used tax dollars — in the form of a program designed to financially help presidents after they leave office — to supplement the Clinton Foundation, which is already under scrutiny. Politico reports that these actions were not illegal, but they do shine a little extra potential for criticism.
Presidents can do a number of things once they have left office. They can build houses for the less fortunate or take up painting. But selling self-portraits may not be able to pay the bills, which is why the Former Presidents Act was set up through the General Services Administration. The act gives presidents a pension, staff, Secret Service detail, and medical care once they leave the White House.
But some are questioning how Bill Clinton’s representatives used his allocations from the GSA. Politico claims that some of these funds purchased IT equipment (including servers) that were used at the Clinton Foundation. The outlet implied that this could have included Hillary’s private email server, but a Clinton spokesperson has slammed that theory as false and says that particular server was paid for with personal funds.
The records from the GSA, which Politico obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found that Clinton representatives requested $16 million in funds, which were also reportedly used to pay salaries for former Clinton aides (including a few that were connected to Hillary’s email scandal and its “pay for play” accusations). $16 million is more than any other living former president has requested. While this is not illegal, it raises eyebrows for those who have wondered whether the Clinton Foundation acted improperly.
The Politico investigation pointed out the Clintons were doing pretty well after leaving Washington by securing book deals and speaking engagement that netted them millions of dollars. And the outlet wonders why GSA funds were requested to such a degree. But a Clinton aide said that all actions taken were perfectly fine under the Former Presidents Act guidelines:
“[Clinton] wears several hats — among them being former President of the United States and the founder of the Clinton Foundation. His staffing reflects those roles. There is no legal prohibition that would preclude the former president’s staff from receiving compensation from other sources or doing personal work for the former presidents. We are unaware of any legal prohibition that would preclude these activities.”
Again, none of the actions described by Politico could trigger legal action, but don’t be surprised if political opponents use these findings to criticize Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.