Bill Clinton defends foundation’s finances amid public scrutiny

August 16, 2013
Former president Bill Clinton
Former president Bill Clinton (Reuters)

Former president Bill Clinton responded to public scrutiny about the operations of his charitable foundation, issuing a lengthy public letter Friday afternoon explaining the organization's finances and management overhaul.

Clinton's letter is an attempt to calm the foundation's donors and partners after an extensive report Wednesday in ythe New York Times documented tensions and conflicts of interest inside and outside the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Times reported that the nonprofit foundation ran multimillion-dollar deficits over several years while funding glitzy events and worldwide travel by its leaders.

In his letter, Clinton said reports of deficits can be "misleading" because of reporting requirements on federal tax forms. For 2012, he wrote, the reported deficit of $8 million was incorrect and based on "unaudited numbers." He wrote that the audited financials will show a surplus, but did not provide a figure.

Clinton said the foundation has 2,100 staff and volunteers in 36 countries and that he has a "passion" to keep overhead costs down. The foundation hired an outside firm, Simpson Thacher, to review internal operations, and Clinton released a three-page executive summary of the firm's audit report. The former president said he and his family are raising money for an endowment and making plans for the foundation's governance for years to come.

"I am immensely proud of what we've accomplished in the last 12 years, and I want it to continue beyond the time when I can raise the annual budget, and be as personally involved in as many of the initiatives as I have been," Clinton wrote.

To read Clinton's letter, click here.

To read the Simpson Thacher audit report, click here.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.
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