Much has been said about an April 2012 email disclosed by WikiLeaks, in which Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s director of foreign policy, writes to senior Clinton Foundation officials explaining the “summary of key points” from his meetings with the “Ambassadors from Qatar, Brazil, Peru, Malawi, and Rwanda, in Washington, DC.”
Describing his meeting with the ambassador of Qatar, Desai wrote, “Would like to see WJC [William Jefferson Clinton] ‘for five minutes’ in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011.”
“Qatar would welcome our suggestions for investments in Haiti – particularly on education and health,” Desai wrote in the email. “They have allocated most of their $20 million but are happy to consider projects we suggest. I’m collecting input from CF Haiti team.”
While this has been seen by critics of the Clinton Foundation as yet another instance of influence pandering and "pay-to-play", this time there may actually be consequences for the Clinton Foundation: according to the State Department, the previously undisclosed donation suggests there may be an ethics violation by the foundation, even though the State of Qatar is shown on the foundation's website as having given at least that amount. There is no date listed for the donation. A spokesman for the foundation declined to confirm the donation to Reuters.
Underscoring the potential flagrant abuse of ethical guidelines if the Qatar payment is confirmed, Hillary Clinton promised the U.S. government that while she served as secretary of state the foundation would not accept new funding from foreign governments without seeking clearance from the State Department's ethics office. The agreement was designed to dispel concerns that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by donations to the foundation.
However, and where things get awkward for Clinton, is that the State Department has said it cannot cite any instances of its ethics officials reviewing or approving new donations from foreign governments to the foundation while Clinton served as the country's top diplomat from 2009 until 2013, suggesting the foundation may be in breach of its ethics agreement over the not immaterial donation of $1 million from a foreign state.
"You would need to ask the Foundation whether there were additional matters that it should have submitted for State Department review," the department said in a statement.
The ethics agreement allowed foreign governments that already supported foundation projects to continue while Clinton was at the State Department. However, if one of those governments wanted to "increase materially its commitment," then the foundation was required to ask the department first. At least in this occasion, it appears that the requirement slipped the Clintons' minds.
Craig Minassian, a foundation spokesman, declined to confirm to Reuters if Qatar gave the $1 million described in the 2012 email. Even if it had, he said he questioned whether the money would be considered a "material increase."
Actually, since according to the Foundation's own website, Qatar gave anywhere between $1 million and $5 million, in the best case scenario the donation would be a rather material 20% increase to Qatar's total. In the worst case, it would be 100%.
Minassian also said Qatar has been donating since 2002, and that some of those donations have been greater than $1 million. Qatar's embassy in Washington did not respond to questions. A spokesman for Clinton, who was campaigning in Seattle on Friday, also did not resond to questions.
Last year, Reuters found that at least seven other foreign governments made new donations to the foundation without the State Department being informed, partly, foundation officials said, because of "oversights."
Then again, with Obama campaigning for Clinton to be elected his successor, and the White House repeatedly declining to discuss the breaches of the agreement Clinton signed with Obama's administration, we doubt anything at all will come out of this particular story.
And just to put a perfect wrapper on this story, here is Hillary Clinton telling Goldman Sachs in 2013, just months after she quit her job as Secretary of State, that Qatar is among the states funding what would emerge to be known as the Islamic State.
If you look at what's happening in Syria, it's clearly a multiply leveled proxy battle. We've got Iran with their agents in Hezbollah, and they're being taken on by indigenous rebels but increasingly a collection of Jihadists who are funded by the Saudis, funded by the Emiratis, funded by Qatar.
Indicatively, this is how much the Clinton foundation has accepted from these three state sponsors of terrorism.
- Saudi Arabia: $10-$25 million
- Qatar: $1-$5 million
- United Arab Emirates: $1-$5 million
Additionally, Bill Clinton has pocketed between $500,000 and $1 million for two speeches sponsored by Qatari entities. Meanwhile the "war" against ISIS continues.