Over the last decade, former President Bill Clinton has raised more than $500 million for his foundation, allowing him to build a glass-and-steel presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and burnish his image as an impresario of global philanthropy. The foundation has closely guarded the identities of its donors — including one who gave $31.3 million last year.
Now, the secrecy surrounding the William J. Clinton Foundation has become a campaign issue as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton seeks the Democratic presidential nomination with her husband as a prime source of strategy and star power. Some of her rivals argue that donors could use presidential foundations to circumvent campaign finance laws intended to limit political influence.
Mrs. Clinton taps foundation's donors
In raising record sums for her campaign, Mrs. Clinton has tapped many of the foundation's donors. At least two dozen have become "Hillraisers," each bundling $100,000 or more for her presidential bid. The early library donors, combined with their families and political action committees, have contributed at least $784,000 to Mrs. Clinton's Senate and presidential coffers.
The $31.3 million donation, which was previously undisclosed, came from the Radcliffe Foundation run by Frank Giustra, a Canadian who has made millions financing mining deals around the world. Mr. Giustra has become a member of Mr. Clinton's inner circle, joining him on global trips and lending him the use of his private MD-87 jet.
For weeks, Clinton Foundation officials had suggested that the $31.3 million contribution listed on its tax return did not come from a single donor. They then said it came from a single source, but declined to identify it. Wednesday afternoon, a representative of Mr. Giustra contacted The Times and acknowledged the Radcliffe contribution
To limit the influence of any single donor, federal election law prohibits foreign donations to presidential campaigns and limits Americans to $2,300 per election.
"The vast scale of these secret fund-raising operations presents enormous opportunities for abuse," said Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, who introduced a bill to force disclosure of presidential foundation donors. The bill passed the House, 390-34, in March but stalled in the Senate."
Building a foundation
In June 1999, as the Clinton administration wound down, Mrs. Clinton told friends gathered in the White House solarium that wealthy donors had offered to establish a foundation for her. But she was set on running for the Senate in New York. That same month, Mr. Clinton and his chief fund-raiser met for dinner with 40 executives at La Grenouille, a French restaurant in Manhattan. The president had a vision for a charitable foundation that would tackle problems domestic and foreign, several former aides who helped establish the foundation said.
On October 6, 1999, the charitable arm of the Anheuser-Busch Companies gave $200,000, the first of five payments over five years totaling $1 million, according to records filed by the company's foundation. Less than a month earlier, the company, the country's leading beer maker, had scored a major victory when the Clinton administration's Federal Trade Commission dropped a bid to regulate beer, wine and liquor advertising that critics said was aimed at under-age drinkers.
Toward the end of the Clinton administration, Dr. Richard Machado Gonzalez and his lawyer, Miguel D. Lausell, both major Democratic donors in the 1996 presidential election, were pushing the president to increase Medicare reimbursements to hospitals in Puerto Rico, like the one owned by Dr. Machado. Mr. Lausell pledged $1 million to the library in 1999, eight months before Mr. Clinton proposed increasing Medicare payments to Puerto Rico for the second time in his administration. Dr. Machado gave the foundation $100,000 about six months later.
ITS GOES ON AND ON AND ON WITH CORRUPTION