Monday, January 11, 2016

Clinton foes target Clinton Foundation, but Rutledge office says there's no investigation

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 10:55 AM

The Sunday Times, a Murdoch-owned London newspaper, reported Sunday on mostly old news — complaints about errors in required tax filings by the Clinton Foundation. One finding reported several months ago was a failure to list some contributions from foreign governments in the proper place on the forms, though they had been publicly disclosed otherwise.

The Times story took things this a step further, however.

A new wave of legal inquiries into the financial affairs of the Clinton Foundation, the giant charity set up by Bill Clinton, the former American president, is being prompted by a paper trail that appears to show accounting errors and omissions.

The Office of the Attorney-General in the charity’s home state of Arkansas has launched informal investigations into alleged accounting irregularities, according to emails seen by The Sunday Times.

A state investigation? It's true that most nonprofit organizations are required to file an annual financial statement with the attorney general's office. Speaking as a board member of several such organizations, my observation has been that it's an obligation rarely reviewed by the attorney general's office. I can't recall any enforcement action brought by that office over reporting or activities of a nonprofit in the 43 years I've been in Arkansas.

So I asked Judd Deere, spokesman for Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, about the report.

His response:

There is no investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

I followed up with a request for any comment about the Sunday Times report and a question of whether anybody in the office had talked to anyone about the subject. The Times said, "The dossier of allegations sent to the Arkansas authorities is based on an analysis by Charles Ortel, a former Wall Street investment banker and critic of the Clintons, who has been assembling data and publishing it on his website since last spring." Said Deere:

I have nothing further, but again there is no investigation.

The subject isn't likely to go away — the interplay of money and world affairs is a proper topic in the context of a presidential candidacy — though the theories in the Times article are, based on evidence so far,  speculative. For example:

IRS rules stipulate that charitable organisations must not engage in any form of political lobbying or do anything to attempt to influence government legislation. The Clinton Foundation’s work on everything from combating HIV to tackling obesity has an explicit goal of influencing policy around the world.

Next thing you know, a Murdoch newspaper will call for an investigation of the Walton Family Foundation for supporting charter schools and, thereby, attempting to influence public policy in the Arkansas legislature.

But, as it happens, the law contains definitions of political activities and lobbying. They generally relate to express advocacy for legislation or election outcomes.

Still, more is undoubtedly to come on the subject.

The Clinton Foundation declined to jump into this latest.

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