But this current quest for cash, which shifts into high gear this fall, is not to fund a run for political office. It is to boost the financial standing of the newly rechristened Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
As he contemplates his legacy, former president Bill Clinton is trying to build an endowment with the declared goal of $200 million to $250 million to ensure that the charitable foundation he started lives on after his death.
The foundation’s causes are expanding from those championed by the former president — fighting AIDS, climate change and global poverty — to include newer domestic priorities embraced by wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea. And that expansion means more fundraising.
“We had to have another way to raise the funds that we need in order to keep the lights on,” said Bruce R. Lindsey, chairman of the foundation, speaking on behalf of the Clintons. “You cannot continue to rely upon a single individual to raise all the money you need to raise on a yearly basis. First of all, it is unbelievably grueling on President Clinton, and second of all, if anything were to happen to him it would end.”
While this fundraising push is philanthropic in nature, there are political implications. There is an unspoken deadline, for example. Clinton insiders said they hope the endowment drive will be completed ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign so that if Hillary Clinton chooses to run, the foundation fundraising would not distract from her campaign.
“It’s the optics of it — it would be horrible,” said one Clinton Foundation fundraiser who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the foundation’s strategy. “They just want to get it done to give her the option so if she wants to run, the foundation is taken care of.”
As the former secretary of state broadens her public profile with a series of major policy addresses, the Clinton Foundation has become the command post for all things Hillary. She is building a staff at its New York headquarters and launching programs on early childhood development and women’s and girls’ empowerment.
But some allies already see signs that the newly reorganized charity is a “pre-campaign organization,” helping enhance Clinton’s reputation and expand her network of supporters.
“People are tripping over themselves to contribute to the foundation now,” said one Clinton ally, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “It’s a way for political supporters to help Hillary at a time when there is no campaign to contribute to.”