A charity affiliated with the Clinton Foundation failed to reveal the identities of its 1,100 donors, creating a broad exception to the foundation’s promise to disclose funding sources as part of an ethics agreement with the Obama administration.
The number of undisclosed contributors to the charity, the Canada-based Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, signals a larger zone of secrecy around foundation donors than was previously known.
Details of the organization’s fundraising were disclosed this week by a spokeswoman for the Canadian group’s founder, mining magnate Frank Giustra.
The Canadian group has received attention in recent days as a potential avenue for anonymous Clinton Foundation donations from foreign business executives, including some who had interests before the U.S. government while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state.
The partnership, named in part for Bill Clinton, sends much of its money to the New York-based Clinton Foundation. Two of the partnership’s known donors — Giustra and another mining executive, Ian Telfer — are featured in the soon-to-be-released book “Clinton Cash” for their roles in a series of deals that resulted in Russia controlling many uranium deposits around the world and in the United States.
With the foundation’s finances emerging as an issue for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a foundation official this week defended the arrangement with the Giustra group, noting in a blog post that Canadian law prevents charities in that country from disclosing their donors without the donors’ permission.
The Canadian partnership has in recent days begun to reach out to its 28 largest donors, each of whom gave donations equivalent to at least $250,000 in U.S. dollars, to seek permission to release their names, said a person familiar with the foundation, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The large number of undisclosed supporters of a Clinton-affiliated charity raises new questions about the foundation’s adherence to the 2008 ethics agreement it struck with the Obama administration, which was designed to avoid conflicts of interest during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.
Former senator Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), who as the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee quizzed Hillary Clinton during her 2009 confirmation hearings about potential conflicts stemming from foundation fundraising around the world, said Tuesday that he considered such undisclosed donations to violate the spirit of the ethics agreement.
“Clearly, there was an expectation and a commitment that large donations to the Clinton Foundation would be disclosed,” Lugar said via e-mail.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian group said the majority of the 1,100 donors gave small, one-time gifts while attending a 2008 fundraising gala.
A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation said the agreement did not apply to the Canadian organization, which is a separate charity based in Vancouver. The spokesman compared the group to other major charities that provide funding to the Clinton Foundation but do not themselves disclose all their donors, such as Partners in Health and the Nature Conservancy.
In the Sunday blog post, the foundation’s acting chief executive, Maura Pally, said the arrangement was “hardly an effort on our part to avoid transparency.”
However, the Giustra partnership has been more intertwined with the Clintons’ $2 billion foundation than other independent charities.
It uses both the Clinton name and the logo of the Clinton Foundation. Giustra himself has given more than $30 million directly to the Clinton Foundation and sits on the organization’s board. He has separately pledged $100 million to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, making him one of the foundation’s largest donors. Bruce Lindsey, a longtime Clinton adviser who chairs the foundation board, also sits on the board of the Canadian organization.
According to Canadian tax filings, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) has spent nearly $30 million in current U.S. dollars since 2007; and nearly $25 million of that spending has gone directly to the Clinton Foundation, a spokeswoman said.
Bill Clinton has also personally raised funds for the group, including at the 2008 gala, where the Canadian mining industry pledged millions for the effort.
“I love this guy, and you should too,” Clinton said of Giustra that night, according to Toronto’s the Globe and Mail newspaper.
A foundation official has said the partnership was Giustra’s brainchild, born of his desire to join forces with Bill Clinton to work to alleviate poverty around the world, particularly in places where the mining industry had been present.
The partnership’s projects have included funding thousands of cataract operations for local residents in Peru and thousands more meals for starving children in Colombia, where Giustra has many investments.
A spokeswoman said the organization is active in Haiti, India, Peru, Colombia and El Salvador and is exploring expanding in Mexico, South Asia and Africa.
In an interview, Giustra said his group was not dependent on the Clintons.
“I’m not doing this because of Bill Clinton,” Giustra said. “He loves what we’re doing with CGEP. But if for some reason he walked away tomorrow, I would just rename it. Call it something else and keep doing it, because I think we’re on to something really great.”
Giustra said many of the organization’s other donors are people he has met through the mining industry, where he has made his fortune, a community he saw as an untapped resource for philanthropy.
“Every year, we come up with a budget for CGEP programs,” he said. “And I make sure, by hook or by crook, that that amount is there. It has to come from me or some other means.”
One controversial Clinton Giustra partnership donor is a Canadian energy company that operates oil fields in Colombia.
The company, Pacific Rubiales, has been the subject of complaints to the State Department from organized labor groups reporting alleged mistreatment of workers. Labor officials said that repeated complaints to the State Department under Clinton and her successor have not produced significant action. The counsel for Pacific Rubiales, Peter Volk, denied the allegations, saying the complaints “stemmed from a rival union to the one representing our employees.”
The company does not appear in the Clinton Foundation’s published list of donors. But it has said in a news release that it has given$3.5 million to the Clinton Giustra partnership.