The Clinton Foundation remains a nebulous organization in many people’s eyes but has accomplished more good than ever imagined since its inception. The foundation was born through Bill Clinton’s desire to shift from presidency to philanthropy (and fund his presidential library), but clearly, matters have grown muddled with the successful rise of Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination. This is now uncharted territory, and there’s also the unavoidable matter of the continued investigation into Hillary’s private email server, which has raised questions about her perceived trustworthiness.
A related issue involves the WikiLeaks dumpings of Clinton emails, which have led to “pay for play” accusations from critics, who believe the foundation provided access for large (oftentimes foreign) donors to Clinton’s State Department. Indeed, many foreign donors donated large sums and subsequently received meetings with Clinton, and she has stated that, if elected president, the foundation will cease to accept foreign donations.
However, the New York Times believes that this promise is not enough. The paper’s editorial board has formally called for Hillary Clinton to distance herself from the foundation. Not only would doing so help her avoid the appearance of impropriety, but the paper believes there are real questions about favors that may have been granted to big donors while Clinton was secretary of state. The paper does acknowledge that the foundation has accomplished many good deeds, but states, “It was hard to tell where the foundation ended and the State Department began.”
The paper discusses the current plans for the foundation if Clinton becomes president, including the reduction in donations from big corporations and foreign governments and the plans for Bill to resign from the foundation’s board. But The Times thinks that Hillary should cut those ties now, and Bill should do so too:
Mrs. Clinton has said she intends to give Mr. Clinton a role in her administration. Cutting his foundation ties would demonstrate that he is giving any role he would have in the administration the priority it deserves. It would also send a signal that Mrs. Clinton and her family have heard the concerns of critics and supporters and will end any further possibility for the foundation to become a conduit to the White House for powerful influence seekers.
The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity. If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton.
The paper also points out Hillary’s desire to give Bill a key role in her administration, which is true. She wants to put him in charge of revitalizing the economy, and this would present (more) conflicts of interest where the foundation is concerned. For all of these reasons, The Times urges the Clintons to cut the cord, sooner rather than later.