Bill Clinton joined his allies in defending his family’s foundation in an open letter on Friday, emphasizing the charity’s philanthropic work in the face of criticism over its foreign donors and alleged entanglement in politics.
“It’s the political season in America, so the purpose and impact of the efforts your support makes possible has largely been ignored in recent coverage of the Foundation,” the former president said in his note. “But we are and always have been a non-partisan, inclusive foundation with lots of support from and involvement by people across the political spectrum and governments from right to left, all committed to our creative solutions-centered work.”
Clinton recounted in his note many of the charitable deeds the Foundation has accomplished around the world, including “helping smallholder farmers in Africa increase their yields” and supporting “women entrepreneurs in Latin America.” Nearly 10 million people in 70 countries have access to HIV/AIDS medicines through the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Clinton wrote.
“We will also continue to look for ways to improve our reporting systems so that we can operate as accurately, efficiently, and transparently as possible – a goal to which we have been committed since day one,” said Clinton in the note.
The Clintons’ allies have voiced their support of the family’s charity in recent days as well, with Foundation donor Jay Jacobs penning a blog post Thursday saying one reason voters should elect Hillary Clinton is her connection to the Foundation. Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s previous presidential election and former advisor in President Clinton’s administration, wrote an op-ed published earlier this week in the Huffington Post defending the Foundation.
The Clinton Foundation has come under fire for accepting donations from foreign businesses and governments with business before the U.S. State Department, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. No specific evidence of intervention on behalf of donors has been found, though in several cases the foundation failed to abide by Clinton’s pledge to disclose all donors during her tenure.
Bill Clinton has also been criticized for giving speeches and making appearances that appear to benefit foundation supporters on the global stage. This week, the foundation came under further scrutiny when it was revealed that Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and adviser of the Clintons, had a $10,000 a month job at the foundation doing unspecified work during the time he was providing Hillary Clinton with purported intelligence tips about activities of various political factions in Libya.
In recent weeks both Bill and Hillary, who is now running for president, have defended the foundation. Hillary said during an event in Iowa last week that she is “proud of the foundation,” and Bill said earlier this month in an interview with NBC that the charity has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate.”