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Politico: Ethicists Question Clinton Foundation Reorganization Plan

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By    |   Thursday, 25 Aug 2016 01:12 PM

Ethics experts are questioning the Clinton Foundation's stated plans to reorganize to avoid future conflicts of interest with a potential Hillary Clinton presidency, according to Politico.

In an NPR interview, Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala says reorganizing would take time and "that kind of unraveling has to be done with a scalpel so that we just do not hurt people, and do not interrupt the very good work that's being done."

However, Richard Painter, George W. Bush's former ethics counsel, disagrees, telling Politico "that could be done in a board meeting — change the name, have the board members resign and be replaced with people with no ties to the Clintons. No one in the Clinton family should be there."

"It could be done in an afternoon," Painter added.

The charity foundation has been mired in claims that some of its donors got special access to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, which Clinton's campaign has denied.

Republican rival Donald Trump has called for a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton's "criminality."

Shalala says plans to reorganize were not a reaction to the claims, but had been in the works since she was hired. "I was brought in a year ago to help start thinking through what the form would take if she was elected, and the president wanted to do it very carefully," she said, reports Politico.

Criticism of the foundation's plans is not limited to those with Republican ties. President Barack Obama's former ethics czar Norm Eisen told Politico the foundation had three choices: "The one option is the slam-on-the-brakes, where you immediately turn everything over," shutting down the foundation is the second option.

"A third option is what we have here — with President Clinton stepping off first and a tapering off by one member of the family. Of the three, Chelsea is best for that taper," he added.

The Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, who is a board member, says she would not step down from the Foundation.

That raises more questions for some, including Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn who told Politico, "Without a doubt, moving forward, having Chelsea at the foundation is really going to create problems."

Painter agreed, telling Politico, "To keep it in your family, that reiterates the problem."

Shalala said Hillary would step away from any of the foundation's spinoffs, and her husband Bill said he would step down from the board and stop raising funds if his wife becomes president.

Philanthropy experts said that changing the scope of a charitable foundation is complicated and could take years. That length of time for the foundation to reorganize "doesn't seem outrageous," according to Richard Marker of NYU's Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, reports Politico.

Eisen said a full reorganization goes further than ethics rules require. Painter noted that the foundation is not required to make any change, but not removing the Clintons from it raises questions that would dog Clinton through her possible presidency.

Government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman says the Clintons' plan to reorganize comes too late, telling Salon, "The conflict of interest is just an inherent part of the foundation."

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Ethics experts are questioning the Clinton Foundation's stated plans to reorganize to avoid future conflicts of interest with a potential Hillary Clinton presidency, according to Politico.
Politico, Ethicists, Question, Clinton Foundation, Plan
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2016-12-25
Thursday, 25 Aug 2016 01:12 PM
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