Charity Begins At Home: Trump vs. Clinton Foundations

Clinton Foundation logo Before the discussion of the Clinton Foundation gets any more ridiculous – it’s time to do a bit of push back on the attacks.  First, there’s the mission of the charity: “We convene businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.”

The mission statement all but invites attacks from the radical right wing; What? The charity supports global health, places a focus on projects that help women, supports efforts to reduce childhood obesity?  Oh, and then there’s the “climate change” element which generally sends the Deniers into a low orbit.   We should come back to these efforts after dealing with some of the more idiotic charges leveled by the Trump Campaign.

Here’s Trump’s latest:

“It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins,” Trump said at a rally in Austin. “It is now abundantly clear that the Clinton’s set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money.” [NBC]

Hogwash.  And we know this is hogwash because, as the article continues:

“Trump cited no evidence of any quid-pro-quo between the foundation’s donors and Clinton’s State Department Tuesday night, but still described Clinton as having been “bought and sold” and characterized the foundation as “a threat to the foundation of Democracy.” [NBC] (emphasis added)

Thus, on the basis of NO evidence whatsoever, Mr. Trump has decided that a charitable organization must be Investigated! Prosecuted! because….why? Perhaps it’s because the interminable Benghazi investigations turned up exactly zilch, and the emails proved absolutely nothing, the GOP is attempting to manufacture another “outrage” for low information public consumption.

Comparing the Clinton and Trump Foundations

Clinton Foundation: The Clinton Foundation is not rated by Charity Navigator, one of the more popular check sites available online.  The rationale for non-rating is made clear:

“We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology. Our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity. We reserve the right to reinstate a rating for The Clinton Foundation as soon as we identify a rating methodology that appropriately captures its business model.   A lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by Charity Navigator.”

Translation: It is NOT that the Clinton Foundation couldn’t be rated, it is not rated because CN’s rating methodology doesn’t fit the business model.   But, But, sputter the critics, the Clinton Foundation was put on the Watch List by CN… Not. So. Fast.

The charitable organization rating group placed the Foundation on its watch list after several negative reports were published in the news between February and November 2015.  After which the Foundation was removed from the watch list because:

“In accordance with our policy for removing charities from the CN Watchlist, Charity Navigator removed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from the Watchlist in December 2015 because the charity provided publicly accessible information regarding their amended tax Forms for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. This information, along with the public memorandum submitted addressing the other issues raised in the Watchlist entry, meets our requirements for removal.”  [CN] (emphasis added)

Now, let’s compare the Clinton Foundation, which provides “publicly accessible information,” which and The Trump Foundation, of which Charity Navigator reports:

“This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because it is a Private Foundation.
Private foundations receive the majority of their money from only one individual, family or corporation. This differs from the public charities that Charity Navigator evaluates. Public charities have a broad-base of support from the general public as well as variety of other funding sources. The IRS requires that private foundations file a Form 990-PF which differs from the document public charities file. This makes it impossible for us to compare the financial performance of private foundations to public charities.” [CN]

There is a whopper sized difference between not being able to rate because of data indicating a different business model, and not being able to rate because it’s impossible to evaluate the financial performance of a private foundation.  Put more simply – it’s the difference between a public charity, fully transparent, with publicly accessible information about programs and projects, and a private foundation about which practically nothing is known.

There is a way to drill down on the Trump Foundations listed but it requires more key strokes.  The portal was created by ProPublica, and from thence on to the individual 990-PF downloads in PDF.  The drilling exercise is instructive.

The Mission is the Message

One of the names appearing on the 2013 Trump Foundation 990-PF is Richard Ebers. whom Huffington Post has already noticed:

“A New York-based ticket broker named Richard Ebers has given more than $1.8 million to Trump’s foundation since 2011. When asked by phone what prompted the donations, Ebers, who’s been described as a high-end scalper, said he had “no comment.” Representatives for the Trump Organization also declined to answer any questions about the money from Ebers.”

The New York Times devoted a full piece to the Ticket Man.  Perhaps Mr. Trump believes that foundations are for “getting something” because that’s the way he has used his?  Again, the Huffington Post reports:

“…the foundation’s money has come from people and companies that do business with Trump or want something from him. In 2006, People magazine gave the foundation $150,000. Trump gave the magazine exclusive photos of his newborn son, Barron, in April of that year. NBC Universal gave the foundation $10,000 in 2007 and another $500,000 in 2012. Trump’s popular reality shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” aired on NBC from 2004 to 2015. And in 2011, Comedy Central gave the foundation $400,000 as an appearance fee for the billionaire’s participation in The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.”  [HuffPo]

Perhaps this is the origin for the attacks on the Clinton Foundation? A person who believes that as he acts, thus does everyone else?  Compare this to the projects associated with the Clinton Foundation, as exemplified by the following two examples:

A self help, entrepreneurial, project in Peru — “Chakipi (meaning “to your home” in Quechua, an indigenous Andean language) Acceso is a last-mile distribution enterprise that equips women in various regions in Peru with sales training and products such as nutritious foods, personal care items, pharmaceuticals, and solar lamps. The Chakipi entrepreneurs then sell these products to others within their communities – providing essential, life-changing goods that are otherwise hard or impossible to access.”

Or CHAI, Building on the work of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), a separate, affiliated entity, to scale up HIV testing and treatment for children, CHAI’s Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program takes a comprehensive approach to stopping new pediatric infections. CHAI supports mothers and babies “across the cascade,” meaning from pregnancy and delivery through breastfeeding and into long-term care for HIV-positive mothers and children. Unlike many PMTCT efforts that focus only on one part of the cascade, CHAI’s work is demonstrating that a comprehensive, integrated system of care will be critical to reaching the ultimate goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections.”

Not to put too fine a point to it, but I’d much prefer the operations of the Clinton Foundation which does things like help women establish home based business enterprises or seeks to prevent the transmission of HIV between mother and child, to the smaller and rather more self serving projects described in the Huffington Post article.  As one of the two Corinthians might have said to Mr. Trump:

A final word from Matthew (7:5)

Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

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