Hillary Has Some ‘Splainin’ To Do About Clinton Foundation

Bill and Hillary Clinton can sometimes sound like Sargent Schulz on the old Hogan’s Heroes show. “I know nothing!”  As Mrs. Clinton remains largely mum, the former President said the Foundation had “never done anything knowingly inappropriate.” He sounded annoyed, a little like his “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Mrs. Clinton had repeatedly promised disclosure and transparency, but then her private email server and preposterous ‘single wireless device’ excuse emerged. Oh well, ‘mistakes were made. The acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation posted a statement acknowledging that the Foundation failed to separate government grants from donations. Oops, we’re amending our tax returns, no harm done, the Foundation suggests. It is clear that the Foundation does good works. The ‘no harm done’ is somewhat less clear, and it isn’t just the tax returns.

Clinton Foundation

Mrs. Clinton has done little to address the extensive donations or grants to her Foundation made by foreign governments while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State. Tens of millions of dollars in foreign government payments weren’t reported in tax filings for five years. The Foundations acting CEO said they were on the website. But it turns out that is not true either, as the Foundation has belatedly acknowledged.

Foreign government funding has received particular scrutiny, and yet incredibly, precise totals for government grants to the Foundation for the last three years of Clinton’s four-year tenure as secretary of state have still not been publicly disclosed. The parsing of ‘is’ worked for President Clinton, and perhaps it can for Mrs. Clinton too. Mr. Obama may not be mad, but perhaps he should be, since it appears that Mrs. Clinton violated his rules too.

The opaque Clinton Foundation tax returns make it look as if someone wanted to keep the embarrassing and conflict-triggering gifts quiet. Perhaps there are emails? The run-by-someone-else Foundation also came under additional scrutiny for failing to clear all foreign government donations through an agreed-upon State Department vetting process. The Foundation initially claimed that it was barred by Canadian law from revealing the names of donors, apparently a bogus excuse.

How much of Clinton Foundation donations go to overhead is a worry too. Upon becoming Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton promised that the Foundation would stop accepting donations from foreign governments. There were exceptions, and the Foundation’s IRS filings were less than transparent. Starting in 2010, the Foundation reported on its IRS tax return for three consecutive years that it received no donations from foreign government sources.

It wasn’t as if they didn’t know how. In prior years, the Foundation reported tens of millions of dollars in donations. The Foundation is now worrying over the accuracy of the IRS returns from 2010, 2011 and 2012. Refiling sounds responsible, but it may not fix everything. Indeed, it is clear that the Foundation did accept millions in donations from foreign governments in those years. It is clear that they overlapped with the time Mrs. Clinton served as Secretary of State. In fact, a whopping 181 donors lobbied the State Department while Mrs. Clinton was there. Amended tax forms aren’t going to change that.

For alerts to future tax articles, follow me on Forbes. You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

 

via The Tax Lawyer http://ift.tt/1KZvCfj

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s