Clintons Face Scrutiny Ahead Of Hillary's Campaign Announcement

Mar 8, 2015
Originally published on March 8, 2015 4:55 pm

Addressing a crowd at the Clinton Global Initiative University at Miami University in Coral Gables, Fla. on Saturday, former president Bill Clinton discussed the Clinton Foundation's decision to accept donations from foreign governments. The foundation's choice is questioned by critics as a possible conflict of interest, especially since some of the funds came in during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, a post she left in 2013.

In reference to money received from Middle Eastern nations such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the former president pointed out that, while he didn't agree with all of the countries' policies, their governments and donations were helpful in combating the self-declared Islamic State or ISIS.

"I believe they do a lot more good than harm," Clinton said.

The Miami Herald reported that not all of funds passed recent fundraising pacts with the White House, despite President Clinton's defense of the countries as friendly donors.

"He characterized the donations as coming from 'friends' that had previously contributed to the foundation and were allowed to keep doing so under a 2008 ethics agreement with the Obama administration. But that was not the case with a $500,000 contribution from the Algerian government."

The former president made no mention of his wife's recent controversy surrounding her choice to only use a personal email account while working for the State Department. Critics say it shows a lack of commitment to transparency, even though the former secretary has requested a release of her emails. The Herald outlined the difference between using a private account as opposed to a public server, saying that it was "impossible to know which emails, if any, were deleted or not turned over."

So far, there are over 55,000 pages of correspondence, currently in review. The AP quoted Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short accusing Hillary Clinton of "hiding from the press and voters." He said he believes she lives by her own set of ethical rules.

The Clintons appear to be leaning into their recent PR issues by selecting Donna Shalala, Bill Clinton's former secretary of Health and Human Services, as the next CEO of their large and widely-respected foundation. While a close friend and ally of the Clintons, CNBC reports Shalala has not shied away from criticizing some of the administration's policies.

"Known for her candor in the Clinton administration, Shalala disagreed with the president's decision to run the ill-fated health care task force, led by Hillary Clinton, from the White House."

Shalala has been president of Miami University for 14 years. She is an accomplished fundraiser, having secured over $3 billion during her time with the university.

During the event on Saturday, Hillary Clinton steered clear of the recent controversies, focusing instead on issues like the Affordable Care Act, Saturday's 50-year anniversary of the march in Selma, Ala., and her work promoting equal rights for women. She is soon expected to release a report titled "No Ceiling," part of the larger "Not There" program addressing gender inequality.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.