The Campaign Spot

The Clinton Foundation: Helping the Rich & Powerful Feel Good About Themselves

Huge Morning Jolt today – “Yuuuuuge,” as Donald Trump would say. The slow-motion train-wreck of Obamacare, Cory Booker’s pathological condition, the Senate’s majority leader and two minority leaders, and then…

The Clinton Foundation: Helping the Rich & Powerful Feel Good About Themselves

The Clinton Foundation is going to be the subject of a lot of scrutiny from here on out:

Hillary Clinton’s announcement in May that she would be joining her husband’s foundation seemed, to outsiders, like the most natural thing in the world: A high-minded, charitable base for whatever the former Secretary of State might choose to do.

But inside Clinton’s circle, the decision provoked a frisson of worry: Clinton was giving up, some thought, the (genuinely) plausible deniability that could protect her from a charitable venture that had always had, up close, a seedy side.

The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis Sunday night opened what are likely to be three years of close public scrutiny of the very private, elite, and lucrative shadow of the Clinton foundation — and specifically, the question of what the foundation’s big donors got in exchange for their hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions. MacGillis’s article is a profile of the architect of what he describes as the “transactionalism” at the heart of Clinton-land, his former aide Doug Band, and his role in shaping a singular charitable enterprise. Band maintained, simultaneously, an “executive consulting” firm called Teneo, whose dealings are totally opaque, aside from having let Band spend $8.8 million on an Upper East Side apartment.

“There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity,” MacGillis writes.

Politico and the New York Times earlier this year touched on problems at the foundation, and at the suggestion that Chelsea Clinton had brought in an outside law firm to audit it. The TNR piece adds a great deal of detail, and raises the question of how money moved in and out of Teneo, and for what.

Who does this guy think he is, Terry McAuliffe?

If you’re wondering where the Foundation spends all that money…

Bill Clinton’s foundation has spent more than $50 million on travel expenses since 2003, an analysis of the non-profit’s tax forms reveal.

The web of foundations run by the former president spent an eye-opening $12.1 million on travel in 2011 alone, according to an internal audit conducted by foundation accountants. That’s enough to by 12,000 air tickets costing $1,000 each, or 33 air tickets each day of the year.

According to previously undisclosed data provided by the Clinton Foundation, presidential trips accounted for 13 percent of the 2010 travel budget and 10 percent of the 2011 travel budget.

That puts Bill Clinton’s single-year travel tab for 2011 at more than $1 million. A foundation official wouldn’t say how many presidential trips occurred in that time frame.

The Clinton Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Somewhere along the line, it became socially acceptable for nonprofits to spend as much on their executives as Fortune 500 companies do.

But you know their response. Come on. Say it with me: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

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