WILLIAM J. CLINTON FOUNDATION
- Assets: $276,839,097 (2008)
- Grants Awarded: $3,905,809 (2008)
The William J. Clinton Foundation (WCF) was established by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2001 “to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment.” Claiming to be politically nonpartisan, the foundation administers several major programs, of which the best-known is the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
Incorporated in 2005 as an independent nonprofit, CGI aims to persuade wealthy businesspeople to pledge money to Clinton Foundation programs. Former World Wildlife Fund president David Sandalow, who served as a senior environmental official in the Clinton administration, chairs the CGI Working Group. The Working Group’s advisory board is composed of such luminaries as Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke; President Clinton's former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carl Browner; Pew Center on Global Climate Change president Eileen Claussen; Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp; and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, an ethanol advocate who supported California’s failed Proposition 87, which would have imposed new taxes on that state’s oil producers. Other key CGI working groups are headed by senior fellows at the Center for American Progress who previously worked for the Clinton administration: Clinton economic advisor Gene Sperling chairs the CGI Education Working Group; Clinton National Security Council staffer Gayle Smith chairs the CGI Poverty-Alleviation Working Group; and Thomas Kalil, deputy director of Clinton's National Economic Council, chairs the CGI Global Health Working Group.
CGI hosts annual Clinton Global Summits where affluent business moguls who pay $15,000 apiece to attend, pledge money to CGI programs. Among those who attended in 2007 were high-ranking officials of Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Duke Energy, Starbucks, the Carnegie Corporation, and the NoVo Foundation. Also on hand were former Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Evangelical Environmental Network president Jim Ball, actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and media giants Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner. At this 2007 Summit, Bill Clinton advocated a form of Cap-and-Trade that would raise energy prices while purportedly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Some CGI activities, such as this greenhouse-gas initiative, are of a highly political nature. Others, however, are not politicized – particularly those that focus their philanthropy on impoverished peoples in Africa.
At the 2009 Clinton Global Summit, attendees included Barack Obama, Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Wangari Maathai, and actors Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
Additional major initiatives of the Clinton Foundation include the following:
A) The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): Established in 2002 as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, this program is dedicated to “expanding access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ... in developing countries.” In its earliest months, WCF brokered price cuts by generic drug producers of AIDS drugs, organizing a cooperative that enabled more than 70 poor nations to purchase those medicines at discounted rates.
B) Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI): Created in 2006 “to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change,” CCI is founded on the premise that human industrial activity, by emitting greenhouse gases (GHG), causes global warming. To address this problem, CCI has created such projects as energy retrofits for homes and businesses, low-GHG-emitting outdoor lighting, and improved waste management for American cities. CCI also promotes clean-energy alternatives to fossil fuels, which it says “account for about 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.” Moreover, CCI seeks to curtail “deforestation in tropical countries,” which it calls “a major contributor to climate change.”
C) Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Asserting that “in the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled and are now at epidemic rates,” this initiative supports a Healthy Schools Program that encourages schools to stock their vending machines with non-fattening foods; urges students to “bring in healthy snacks for school parties”; and exhorts parents to “work with your child’s school to organize 'healthy' fundraisers like walk-a-thons.”
D) Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative (CEOI): This Initiative was established in 2002 “to reduce economic inequity and accelerate economic progress in the United States by helping individuals become more financially stable and businesses in underserved communities to grow.” CEOI's Entrepreneurship Program “promotes business-to-business public service, helping entrepreneurs reach higher levels of success”; the Financial Mainstream Program “helps people access lower-cost, safer financial services, and the support they need to develop and sustain good financial habits.”
E) Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI): At the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, Scottish philanthropist Tom Hunter, the wealthiest man in Scotland, committed “to invest $100 million over ten years to encourage sustainable economic growth in the developing world” – principally Africa. Specifically, CHDI “works to increase farmers’ access to fertilizer, seeds, irrigation, and other farming inputs, and to identify and develop new markets for agricultural outputs.”
F) Clinton-Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI): Established in 2007 by Bill Clinton and mining/film magnate Frank Giustra, this program “focuses on alleviating poverty in the developing world through market-driven development that creates jobs and increases incomes, and by strengthening factors that enable economic growth such as health and education.” CGSGI has begun work in Colombia and Peru to strengthen child nutrition, expand access to health care, and support entrepreneurship.”
The Clinton Foundation has collected many millions of dollars in donations to fund the Clinton Presidential Library. At least 57 separate donors gave $1 million or more. Among these were Hollywood director-producer Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw; movie producer Stephen Bing; insurance magnate Peter Lewis; and the Soros Foundation, which is the European arm of George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Another notable donor was Denise Rich -- ex-wife of Marc Rich, a billionaire fugitive who had fled to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for 51 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion, and illegal oil transactions with Iran; Mrs. Rich gave the foundation $450,000.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe – who served as manager and chief fundraiser of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign – sits on WCF's board of directors and is one of its leading fundraisers. WCF chief executive officer Bruce Lindsey was a senior advisor in the Bill Clinton White House. And WCF board member Cheryl Mills served not only as deputy White House counsel in the Clinton administration, but also as general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
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