The foundation told The Washington Post on Wednesday that it had failed to follow that process once, after the government of Algeria made an unsolicited $500,000 donation to assist in earthquake relief in Haiti. The donation coincided with a spike in lobbying by Algeria, which was defending its human rights record to U.S. officials.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said the donation did not pose a problem, since the U.S. had been supportive of efforts to rebuild in Haiti at the time
"Obviously, we liked to review — and we have reviewed — every donation that has been submitted," she said. (Foundation officials told The Post that, in fact, no foreign government donations were submitted for review.) But, she added, "The fact that the process was not followed in this particular incident does not raise concerns with us."
She said that the foundation's commitment to provide information about foreign government contributions "went beyond the requirements of ethics laws and regulations," and she challenged the notion that the donation presented a conflict of interest or impacted policy.
"Where's the evidence of that?" she asked. "I think that's the question."
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest sidestepped questions about whether Obama was disappointed to hear about the donation, referring questions to the State Department. The 2008 agreement was jointly signed by Bruce Lindsey, then the foundation’s chief executive, and Valerie Jarrett, who was co-chair of Obama’s transition team.
"It’s their responsibility to enforce the memorandum of understanding, so I'd refer you to them," Earnest said of the State Department. "But I can tell you that the president is obviously very pleased at the way that Secretary Clinton represented the United States around the globe during her tenure at Foggy Bottom."
The Post also reported that the foundation accepted millions of dollars from the governments of six additional nations during the four years Clinton served as secretary of state. Those dollars were allowed under a provision of the agreement that allowed foreign governments that had been giving to the foundation to continue to do so, provided they did not "materially increase" their contribution level. Those nations were Australia, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Norway, Oman and Qatar.
Foundation officials said the donations were used to further the group's philanthropic mission and, in some cases, came as the result of multi-year grants awarded before Clinton took office.