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The Clinton Global Initiative, which claims to “have made thousands of Commitments to Action that are helping millions of people,” arranged for a $2 million commitment to benefit a for-profit corporation owned in part by individuals with ties to the Clintons.
One of those individuals is a close friend to former President Bill Clinton; others include former and current Democratic officials who are also Clinton friends.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The $2 million commitment was placed on the agenda for a September 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative at Mr. Clinton’s urging, according to a document from the period and people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Clinton also personally endorsed the company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant that year, said people with knowledge of the endorsement.
The company, whose business plan was to insulate people’s homes and let them pay via their utility bills, received an $812,000 Energy Department grant. Mr. Chu, now a professor at Stanford University, said he didn’t remember the conversation.
Under federal law, tax-exempt charitable organizations aren’t supposed to act in anyone’s private interest but instead in the public interest, on broad issues such as education or poverty.
Energy Pioneer Solutions, the company that benefitted from the $2 million commitment, was founded by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who ran for Congress in Nebraska.
The company was also partially owned by a close friend and neighbor of Bill Clinton, Julie Tauber McMahon. Other part-owners include Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias and Rhode Island Democratic political operative Mark Weiner. Both Tobias and Weiner are Clinton friends.
The Clinton Global Initiative was established in 2005 by the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which has itself been the target of criticism.
Last year Charity Navigator, a charitable organization watchdog group, placed the foundation on its watch list of problematic non-profits. It found that while the foundation took in $140 million in donations, less that 7 percent — $9 million — was paid out in direct aid. The rest went to administrative and other expenses.
The Wall Street Journal reached out to the Clinton Foundation for comment on what appears to be a gross conflict of interest.
“President Clinton has forged an amazing universe of relationships and friendships throughout his life that endure to this day, and many of those individuals and friends are involved in CGI Commitments because they share a passion for making a positive impact in the world,” foundation officials told the Journal.
“As opposed to a conflict of interest, they share a common interest.”
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