Clintons Mum on Donors

Democrat John Edwards joins SuChin Pak of MTV News for the MTV-MySpace interactive forum in Durham, N.H. Questions came from a live audience and from Internet users.
Democrat John Edwards joins SuChin Pak of MTV News for the MTV-MySpace interactive forum in Durham, N.H. Questions came from a live audience and from Internet users. (By Jim Cole -- Associated Press)
Friday, September 28, 2007

NO NAMES, PLEASE

Clintons Mum on Donors

Bill Clinton is showing no inclination to disclose the names of the people whose sizable donations helped construct his $165 million presidential library.

In a surreal moment during Wednesday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked about the fact that her husband's foundation and library refuse to disclose the names of the people who have chipped in, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars -- any of whom might want to curry favor with the family of the next president. Moderator Tim Russert asked why her husband had not voluntarily made the donor list public even if the law does not require it, given the potential for conflict.

"You'll have to ask them," said the senator from New York.

"What's your recommendation?" Russert asked.

"Well, I don't talk about my private conversations with my husband," she responded.

Clinton Library officials and his personal spokesman did not return repeated calls, but NBC News caught up with the former president in New York yesterday, where he was hosting a news conference about his Global Initiative.

"If she becomes president, I will treat it as if we are covered by that, and I will disclose all the donors to our library and activities," he told the network. But that will not apply to those who have already donated, he said.

"For the people that have already given me money, I don't think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware, and there is not."

What little is known about the financing of the Clinton Library was reported in the New York Sun. The reporter found the donor names on a touch-screen computer mounted on a wall on the third floor of the library, shortly after it opened in 2004. The computer was removed soon after the article appeared. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette followed with a more complete list the next year.

Among the names that surfaced were a range of foreign donors, including the Saudi royal family, Kuwait, Brunei and the Embassy of Qatar. Foreigners are not permitted to make campaign donations, but there are no rules in place about who can give to a presidential library.

There were several figures who have factored into stories about the Clintons' fundraising. For instance, Patricia Hotung, the wife of Hong Kong businessman Eric Hotung, was a library donor. In 1997, they were also in the news because Patricia Hotung donated $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee shortly after her husband was granted a meeting with Clinton's top national security advisers.


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