Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has charged that "so little"
of the charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation "actually go to charitable works," a figure her Super PAC has put at 6 percent of the Foundation's annual revenue.
The bottom line, according to the online information watchdog FactCheck.org
: "Fiorina is simply wrong."
Fiorina is referring only to the amount of money donated by the Clinton Foundation to outside charities, ignoring the fact that most of the Foundation's charitable work is performed in-house.
The independent philanthropy watchdog CharityWatch analyzed Foundation funding and concluded that about 89 percent of it went to charity — higher than the 75 percent considered the industry standard.
"Simply put, despite its name, the Clinton Foundation is not a private foundation — which typically acts as a pass-through for private donations to other charitable organizations," FactCheck noted. "Rather, it is a public charity. It conducts most of its charitable activities directly."
Asked for backup to its contention, the CARLY for America Super PAC pointed to the Clinton Foundation's latest IRS Form 990, which shows total revenue of nearly $149 million in 2013, and total charitable grant disbursements of nearly $9 million — about 6 percent of the budget. Besides those grants, the Super PAC said, "there really isn't anything that can be categorized as charitable."
FactCheck: "That just isn't so. The Clinton Foundation does most of its charitable work itself."
Craig Minassian, chief communications officer for the Clinton Foundation, told FactCheck: "We operate programs on the ground, around the world, that are making a difference on issues ranging from poverty and global health to climate change and women's and girls' participation. Many large foundations actually provide grants to the Clinton Foundation so that our staff can implement the work."
Hundreds of millions the foundation helps to raise through "commitments" at the Clinton Global Initiative, its annual powwow in New York, go directly from donors and other foundations to charities around the world. The Foundation doesn’t take a dime from those funds.
Asked by FactCheck to cite some examples of the work it performs itself, the Clinton Foundation listed:
- Clinton Development Initiative staff in Africa train rural farmers and help them get access to seeds, equipment and markets for their crops.
- Clinton Climate Initiative staff help governments in Africa and the Caribbean region with reforestation efforts, and in island nations to help develop renewable energy projects.
- Staff at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, an independent, affiliated entity, work in dozens of nations to lower the cost of HIV/AIDS medicine, scale up pediatric AIDS treatment and promote treatment of diarrhea through life-saving Zinc/ORS treatment.
- Clinton Health Matters staff work with local governments and businesses in the United States to develop wellness and physical activity plans.
Fox Business Network's Gerri Willis
also claimed that only 6 percent of the Clinton Foundation's 2013 revenue "went to help people," and said that watchdog Charity Navigator had placed the Foundation on a watch list.
But Charity Navigator's Sandra Minuitti told FactCheck that her organization had decided not to rate the Clinton Foundation, and said the decision to withhold a rating had nothing to do with concerns about the Foundation's charitable work.
Fiorina's Super PAC also maintained that the Foundation spent 12 percent of its revenue on travel and conferences and 20 percent on salaries. But Minuitti cautioned that it is inaccurate to assume that that money did not go to charity, adding that travel and salaries could be considered expenses related to charity.
Watchdog CharityWatch, a project of the American Institute of Philanthropy, gave the Clinton Foundation an "A" rating.
Its president and founder, Daniel Borochoff, said that by looking only at the money the Foundation gave out in grants, Fiorina "is showing her lack of understanding of charitable organizations."
FactCheck concluded: "It is clear that the claim that the Clinton Foundation only steers 6 percent of its donations to charity is wrong, and amounts to a misunderstanding of how public charities work."
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