Clinton Foundation confirms $1m donation from Qatar, denies wrongdoing

Spokesperson for charity says previously undisclosed 2012 contribution does not violate State Department ethics agreement

US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Tempe, Arizona, November 2, 2016.  (AFP/Jewel Samad)
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Tempe, Arizona, November 2, 2016. (AFP/Jewel Samad)

Hillary Clinton’s charitable foundation confirmed it accepted a $1 million donation from Qatar while the Democratic presidential nominee served as secretary of state in 2012 and failed to inform the State Department of the sizable gift, Wikileaks’ most recent dump of hacked Clinton emails has revealed.

According to Reuters, wealthy Qatari officials pledged the contribution to the Clinton Foundation in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, in an effort to meet and present the former US president with the check in person.

The report noted the donation, and claimed failure to disclose it to the relevant US authorities violated an ethics agreement that Hillary Clinton signed with State Department before she was appointed the top post in 2009. The agreement pledged access for the agency to review new or “materially increased” support from foreign governments.

The agreement was designed to enhance transparency to avoid the impression that Clinton, and as a result US foreign policy, could be swayed by wealthy donors.

Earlier this week, Clinton Foundation spokesperson Brian Cookstra confirmed the charity accepted the gift towards its “overall humanitarian work,” but insisted the funds did not constitute a “material increase” in Qatar’s support for the organization, and was therefore not subject to review by the State Department.

“Qatar continued supporting Clinton Foundation at equal or lower levels” compared with contributions before 2009, he said.

Cookstra did not confirm whether the Qatari donors were granted an audience with the former president.

The report said the Qatari government has declined to comment on reports of the donation.

According to the Foundation’s website, Qatar has donated between $1-5 million to the organization in recent years, however a State Department spokesperson has said that Washington was not informed of the 2012 contribution.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been plagued by federal investigations into her use of a private email sever when she served as secretary of state under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013.

In July, the FBI closed its investigation into Clinton’s private email use, and recommended no criminal charges be filed over the affair.

However, Wikileaks’ fresh batch of published emails hacked from Clinton’s private server has again brought the issue of transparency to the spotlight just weeks ahead of the bitterly contested November 8 presidential election.

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