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The Clinton Foundation spent more on office supplies than on charity gifts in 2013

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Unread 04.28.15, 07:29 PM
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The Clinton Foundation spent more on office supplies than on charity gifts in 2013

04.28.15 10:03 AM

A new review of the Clinton Foundation’s recent expenditures challenges the foundation’s boast that most of the money it spends goes “directly to our life-changing work.”

The foundation took to social media last week to counter recent revelations about its omission of foreign donations from the IRS, as well as the general scandal surrounding the possibility that Hillary Clinton’s State Department policy may have been influenced by those same donations.

The foundation’s official Twitter account sent out an April 25 message boasting that “[m]ore than 88% of our expenditures go directly to our life-changing work,” and linked to an infographic purporting to break down its 2013 expenditures by category.

That graphic claimed 88.4 percent of the foundation’s outlay went for “Program” expenditures, 7 percent went for “Management and General,” and 4.5 percent went for “Fundraising” – with “Program” encompassing the catch-all category of charitable giving.

But The Federalist took a look at the information the Clinton Foundation provided on its 2013 IRS Form 990 and quickly concluded that the foundation’s claim was egregiously misleading.

From The Federalist:
There’s only one problem: that claim is demonstrably false. And it is false not according to some partisan spin on the numbers, but because the organization’s own tax filings contradict the claim.

In order for the 88 percent claim to be even remotely close to the truth, the words “directly” and “life-changing” have to mean something other than “directly” and “life-changing.” For example, the Clinton Foundation spent nearly $8.5 million – 10 percent of all 2013 expenditures – on travel. Do plane tickets and hotel accommodations directly change lives? Nearly $4.8 million–5.6 percent of all expenditures–was spent on office supplies. Are ink cartridges and staplers “life-changing” commodities?

Those two categories alone comprise over 15 percent of all Clinton Foundation expenses in 2013, and we haven’t even examined other spending categories like employee fringe benefits ($3.7 million), IT costs ($2.1 million), rent ($4 million) or conferences and conventions ($9.2 million). Yet, the tax-exempt organization claimed in its tweet that no more than 12 percent of its expenditures went to these overhead expenses.

The report went on to envision a scenario in which the Clinton Foundation could receive the benefit of the doubt for lumping in office chairs and IT expenses with “life-changing” work. The result? There’s still no way the foundation could be telling the truth.

“Even using the broadest definition of ‘program expenses’ possible, however, the 88 percent claim is still false,” the report asserts. “How do we know? Because the IRS 990 forms submitted by the Clinton Foundation include a specific and detailed accounting of these programmatic expenses. And even using extremely broad definitions–definitions that allow office supply, rent, travel, and IT costs to be counted as programmatic costs–the Clinton Foundation fails its own test.”

Using a permissive interpretation of what the Clinton Foundation might claim as “program” expenses, the report found it impossible to locate more than 80 percent of the nonprofit’s total financial information, as reported on Form 990,that might qualify.

Using a more restrictive – or, as The Federalist describes it, a “more realistic” – interpretation, the ratio fell to a mere 10 percent. “The amount [the foundation] spent on charitable grants – $8.8 million – was dwarfed by the $17.2 million it cumulatively spent on travel, rent, and office supplies,” the report indicates. “Between 2011 and 2013, the organization spent only 9.9 percent of the $252 million it collected on direct charitable grants.”

In a separate story, The Federalist also debunked the Clinton Foundation’s claim that its activity in Canada is shielded by Canadian privacy laws from any obligation to disclose its list of donors. Using the foundation’s own supporting documentation, reporter Mollie Hemingway corrected the Clinton Foundation’s inept and misleading defense of its own disclosure practices:
After this article was initially published, the Clinton Foundation sent The Federalist two links (here and here) allegedly supporting its contention that federal law in Canada prohibits public disclosure of the names of charitable organization donors. Unfortunately for the Clinton Foundation, neither link supports the organization’s rationale for deliberately withholding donor information from the public. In fact, one of the links actually includes information that directly contradicts the Clinton Foundation’s assertion.

According to a guide for non-profit compliance that is prominently linked on the page provided by the Clinton Foundation, fundraising activities of non-profits are specifically exempt from the privacy protections in Canada’s federal privacy law. Why? Because, as the article below states, public disclosure of non-profit donors does not constitute “commercial activity” and is therefore not at all prohibited[.]

The post The Clinton Foundation spent more on office supplies than on charity gifts in 2013 appeared first on Personal Liberty.



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