News & Politics

NY AG Won't Enforce Laws Requiring Clinton Charities to Disclose Names of Foreign Government Donors

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman refuses to enforce state laws requiring the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative to publicly disclose the names of foreign governments that donate millions each year to the charities, according to a Scripps News investigation. And because Schneiderman has failed to force compliance with New York law (including written instructions from his own office), the public has no idea whether the foreign governments that gave money to the Clinton charities got any special favors from Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.

Scripps reviewed tax returns and regulatory filings and found that “year after year the Clinton charities have ignored New York law and related instructions.”

New York state has long required transparency from non-profits operating within its borders and in fact, Schneiderman recently won a case against the conservative group Citizens United after it didn’t want to disclose its major donors. Conservatives tend to oppose laws that force organizations to report the names and addresses of their donors to the government (which are subsequently published on government websites) because such disclosures often lead to left-wing harassment and intimidation campaigns against the donors. What makes it even worse is the selective enforcement of the sunshine laws.

Schneiderman is on Clinton’s “leadership council” in New York, and recently gave $2,700 — the maximum donation allowed — to her campaign.

Via ABC 15:

Scripps also discovered CHAI did not report hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign government donations to the state.

However, Schneiderman’s office said it considers the Clinton Foundation, which is a separate charity, “in step” with state rules.

“He’s not doing his job in that case,” said David Nelson, an attorney and former partner at the accounting firm of Ernst & Young who served on the regulations and legislation committee of the Council On Foundations, the philanthropy industry’s equivalent of the American Bar Association.

In 2009, Secretary Clinton’s first year heading the State Department, the Clinton Foundation disclosed to New York only a lump sum of $122 million in foreign government donations, listing the amount on a required form that directs all charities to “list each government contribution (grant) separately.” The foundation continued to provide the lump sum disclosures for foreign governments in every year that followed.

Nelson said, “The Clinton Foundation cannot say they are in compliance with New York regulations.”

“I have no idea how to reconcile the letter of the law and the statements from the attorney general,” said John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation. “They seem to be in direct contradiction.”

A partial review by Scripps of charities registered in New York found inconsistent compliance with the instructions.

The New York Attorney General’s office published a set of detailed instructions for all charities to follow. It directs them to make sure the total amount of government contributions disclosed to the state is equal to what the charities report to the IRS. From 2010-2014, for every year it has filed disclosures with the state, the Clinton Health Access Initiative has ignored this direction.

By 2010, Hillary Clinton was entering her second year as secretary of state and the Clinton Health Access Initiative had just split off from the Clinton Foundation as part of an agreement with the Obama administration. The separation was intended to help bring “greater transparency” to the Clinton charities during her tenure at the State Department, according to a memorandum of understanding with President Obama’s transition team.

That year, CHAI reported only $242,099 in “Total Government Contributions” to New York regulators, and that number included only domestic grants. But for the same time period in 2010 it told the IRS it received $26,740,319 in foreign and domestic government grants.

By not telling New York about millions in foreign government grants it received that year, CHAI avoided the state’s more stringent disclosure rules that would have required the charity to itemize publicly each domestic and foreign government donation. In a letter written in November 2014, as Clinton began eyeing a run for the White House, CHAI itemized domestic government grants but told the New York attorney general’s office it “also received foreign government contributions and can provide those in more details if needed.”

Every disclosure CHAI has ever made since separating from the Clinton Foundation has come during Schneiderman’s tenure as attorney general. CHAI spokesperson Regan Lachapelle told Scripps that if Schneiderman’s office wants more information, it can ask for it.

Schneiderman’s office did not respond to Scripps’ questions about the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), even though “it has never publicly disclosed in New York filings the identity of its foreign government contributors or the amounts they give each year.”

In fairness, the NY attorney general has been very busy of late trying to hold “climate deniers” accountable to “the fullest extent of the law.” Back in March, Schneiderman announced that his group “AGs United for Clean Power” would “as aggressively as possible” investigate and prosecute businesses like Exxon Mobil that commit “fraud” by “lying” about climate change. Since that effort has fallen flat, perhaps he’ll have more time on his hands  to pursue the Clinton charity discrepancies to the “fullest extent of the law.”