The Clinton Foundation admitted Thursday that a 2010 donation from the Algerian government was not properly approved under the guidelines the Obama administration put in place with the foundation when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009.
The “unsolicited” $500,000 donation was made by the Embassy of Algeria “immediately following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010,” the Clinton foundation said in an unsigned statement.
“As the Clinton Foundation did with all donations it received for earthquake relief, the entire amount of Algeria’s contribution was distributed as aid in Haiti,” the statement said. “This donation was disclosed publicly on the Clinton Foundation website, however, the State Department should have also been formally informed.”
In 2008, before Hillary Clinton became Obama’s secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration signed an agreement that outlined how the foundation would deal with conflict of interest questions but still be allowed to continue its philanthropic work.
One aspect of the agreement was that the Clinton Foundation would stop taking new foreign donations, except from those countries that had previously donated to the foundation and didn’t increase their contributions.
The Algerian government aid was a one-time donation to help Haiti, the statement said, and the government had not donated to the foundation before or since.
The statement was prompted by a Washington Post story that reported “the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state,” including the Algerian government donations that violated the agreement.
The other foreign governments that continued donating while Clinton was secretary of state, according to the Post, were Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Australia, Norway and the Dominican Republic. Some of this donations were multi-year grants for specific issues.
The Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton have been on the defensive since The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the foundation had begun accepting donations from foreign governments now that Hillary Clinton was no longer secretary of state.
“The Clinton Foundation is a philanthropy, period,” Craig Minassian, the foundation spokesman, said in a statement defending its foreign donations last week. “As with other global charities, the Clinton Foundation receives the support of individuals, organizations and governments from all over the world because our programs are improving the lives of millions of people.”
The foundation has also noted that it has “strong donor integrity and transparency practices that go above and beyond what is required of U.S. charities,” including posting all donations to the foundation website.
The stories have become a political problem for Hillary Clinton, too. While she has not made any official move to run for president in 2016, she is the frontrunner for the nomination and has been making behind the scenes moves towards a run.
Clinton has also not commented on the issue and her spokesman has declined comment on the multiple reports and referred questions to the Clinton foundation.
Republicans, though, have jumped on the stories and roundly questioned whether the foundation opens Clinton up to conflict of interest concerns. Similar questions were asked during Clinton’s confirmation hearings in 2009.
“With each passing revelation, Hillary Clinton is showing the country she cannot be trusted to lead on the international stage,” Michael Short, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said on Thursday.
When Vice President Joe Biden said he didn’t “know enough about it” when asked about the stories in New Hampshire, the RNC noted that Biden had “now officially said more than candidate-in-hiding” Hillary Clinton.
And even some Democrats with ties to Clinton have become quietly uncomfortable with the foundation stories.
Looking to signal they would stop collecting foreign donations if Clinton runs for president, the foundation said in another unsigned foundation statement last week said that, “should Secretary Clinton decide to run for office, we will continue to ensure the foundation’s policies and practices regarding support from international partners are appropriate, just as we did when she served as secretary of state.”