Using the passive voice, Hillary Clinton proclaimed, “All of the fees have been donated to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and life-saving work. So it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation.” Since her retreat under fire, the media have shown precious little curiosity. Right off the bat, we can think of a bunch of questions:
- When did she make the decision and why?
- Will she take a tax deduction for donating income to charity (her foundation)? Why not return the money to the universities?
- Why hold up universities to give to the foundation? If they wanted to give to the foundation, wouldn’t they do so?
- How far back is she going in this philanthropy — to her first post-Foggy Bottom chat?
- Does this only apply to university speeches or will she give back money from hedge funds, the auto dealers association and the rest?
- How does this mesh with her statement that she was “dead broke”?
- Speaking of the foundation, what percentage of what it takes in goes to beneficiaries? What expenses do the Clintons charge to the foundation?
- One report suggested the Clintons have spent $50 million on travel expenses. How do they justify this?
- Has the foundation corrected the issues documented in a 2013 New York Times report? (“For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.”)
- Why did she need to charge any amount for speaking fees? When is she “rich enough” to donate her time?
Hillary Clinton’s money problems are three-fold. First, she seems in denial about how wealthy she is and comes across as self-pitying. Second, the overlap between her audiences and potential donors (e.g. Wall Street investment bankers) calls into question whether she is promoting her charity or giving access to potential donors? And, finally, her wealth combined with her news-less book and lack of any agenda reinforces the perception this is all about her. That’s fine for a celebrity, but not so fine for a presidential candidate.