Sun, Oct 30, 2016 - Page 7 News List

E-mails show that donations vexed aides of Hillary Clinton

The whereabouts of donations to the Clinton Foundation provoked such concern that Chelsea Clinton helped enlist an outside law firm to audit its practices

By Steve Eder and Amy Chozick  /  NY Times News Service, New York

In the years before Hillary Rodham Clinton announced she would run again for the US presidency, her top aides expressed profound concerns in internal e-mails about how foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and former US president Bill Clinton’s own moneymaking ventures would affect the Democratic candidate’s political future.

The e-mails, obtained by hackers and being gradually released by WikiLeaks this month, are also revealing how efforts to minimize potential conflicts at the foundation led to power struggles and infighting among aides and Hillary Clinton’s family.

One top aide to Bill Clinton, Douglas Band, said in an e-mail that the former president had received personal income from some foundation donors and “gets many expensive gifts from them.”

Chelsea Clinton accused her father’s aides of taking “significant sums of money from my parents personally,” of “hustling” during foundation events to win clients for their own businesses and even of installing spyware on her chief of staff’s computer.

Hillary Clinton, another e-mail showed, had promised to attend a Clinton Foundation gathering in Morocco at the behest of its king, who had pledged US$12 million to the charity.

Her advisers worried that would look unseemly just as she was beginning her presidential campaign in earnest.

“She created this mess and she knows it,” a close aide, Huma Abedin, wrote of Hillary Clinton in an e-mail in January last year.

For months, the Clintons have defended their family foundation, making public proclamations that it went above and beyond what the law required in terms of transparency while Hillary Clinton was at the US Department of State.

The e-mails, which came from the account of John Podesta, who had a leadership role at the foundation and is now Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, show pronounced worries among the Clintons’ closest advisers about the millions of dollars coming into the foundation, and to Bill Clinton personally, and how they could inoculate Hillary Clinton from criticism over it.

“Do they plan to do big events next year?” Robby Mook, her campaign manager, asked about the foundation last year, shortly after Hillary Clinton began her presidential campaign. “Possible for those to be smaller and lower key in 16?”

FUNDRAISING

Founded in 1997, when Bill Clinton was still president, the foundation has raised about US$2 billion to fund projects around the world, helping African farmers improve their yields, Haitians recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake and millions of people gain access to cheaper HIV/AIDS medication, among other accomplishments.

Some of the former president’s staff members followed him from the White House to the foundation, and the e-mails provide an extraordinary look at the soap opera that unfolded years later as people close to the couple felt their power threatened.

“This is the 3rd time this week where she has gone to daddy to change a decision or interject herself,” Band wrote about Chelsea Clinton in 2011.

At the time, she was beginning to exert influence at the foundation, expressing concerns that Band and others were trying to use the charity to make money for themselves, and accusing another aide in her father’s personal office of installing spyware.

E-mails released on Tuesday contained a memo from Band essentially defending his work for the foundation, and for Bill Clinton personally, even as Band was building up his political consulting firm, Teneo.

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