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May 13, 2016

Clinton Global Initiative Helped Firm With Clinton Ties

A $2 million commitment announced at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative supported a green-energy company partly owned by friends of the Clinton family, according to The Wall Street Journal. Bill Clinton urged that the backing for Energy Pioneer Solutions be placed on the agenda at the September 2010 conference of the initiative, an offshoot of the Clinton Foundation, and also endorsed the firm for an Energy Department grant, the Journal writes.

Julie Tauber McMahon, a neighbor of the Clintons in Chappaqua, N.Y., who described herself as a “family friend,” owned 29 percent of Energy Pioneer Solutions, and two Democratic Party activists with longtime ties to the family had 5 percent stakes. The company aimed to make homes more energy-efficient by providing insulation customers could pay for through their utility bills. It recently laid off most staff and closed its offices.

The Clinton Global Initiative serves as a matchmaker to secure funding for projects in health, education, and other areas. Most of the commitments support nonprofit organizations. The Energy Pioneer Solutions support came mainly from Kim Samuel, a Canadian steel magnate and philanthropist. Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian called it an instance of the “mission-driven investing” that is “common practice in the broader philanthropic space.” A spokesman for Mr. Clinton said the former president “counts many CGI participants as friends.”

The Clinton Foundation is exploring changes in its financial reporting so it can be rated by Charity Navigator, CNNMoney reports. The watchdog group, which evaluates nonprofits’ financial health and transparency, stopped assessing the foundation in 2014, citing its “atypical business model.”

"We are working with [Charity Navigator] to understand and provide the information they need," the foundation said in a statement.