Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Did the Clinton Foundation Really Accept Unauthorized Money from Qatar?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; Did the Clinton Foundation Really Accept Unauthorized Money from Qatar?

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

Did the Clinton Foundation accept a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was serving as the U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department?

Qatari officials pledged the $1 million in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Hillary Clinton's husband Bill, and wanted to meet the former U.S. president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta's account, was published in October 2016 by WikiLeaks.

Clinton signed an ethics agreement governing her family's foundation as part of becoming secretary of state in 2009, Reuters reported and Snopes.com republished. The agreement was designed to increase transparency to avoid appearances that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by wealthy donors.

With the agreement, Clinton promised that the State Department's ethics official would be notified and given a chance to raise any concerns if foreign governments wanted to "increase materially" their support of ongoing programs.

At first, Snopes.com reported, officials with the Clinton Foundation would not confirm the Qatar donation. But after more questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, said that it had accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but it did not amount to a "material increase" in the Gulf country's support for the charity. Cookstra would not say whether Qatari officials ever met with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar's embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, would not discuss the donation, according to media reports.

The State Department told Reuters that it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, even though, according to the agreement, it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions from Reuters about the donation.

According to the foundation's website, which lists donors by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar's government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years, Reuters reported. …

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