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September 21, 2016

Daily News Roundup: Job Cuts Loom at Clinton Global Initiative

Clinton Global Initiative Terminating Dozens of Jobs: The Clinton Foundation offshoot has notified dozens of employees that their posts will be eliminated at the end of the year, Politico reports, citing two former foundation officials who remain in touch with staff. The layoffs stem from the winding down of the initiative, known as CGI, which held its final meeting this week in New York. CGI, which at its peak had some 200 full-time employees, will retain some staff to work with government, nonprofit, and corporate sponsors on ongoing projects. A foundation spokesman said the charity is providing career coaching, job leads, and other resources to help departing workers land new posts. Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy story on the final CGI gathering.

In other Clinton Foundation news, The Wall Street Journal reports that a major fragrance and flavoring company, Switzerland-based Firmenich, partnered with the foundation on a project to plant limes in Haiti months after a perfume trade group paid Bill Clinton $260,000 for a speech. The Journal says the matter reflects “the kind of overlapping of private and charitable interests that has become a political liability” for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Wired runs down data on the global impact of CGI projects and contrasts it with the philanthropy practiced by Republican nominee Donald Trump’s foundation.

Sunlight Foundation Cuts Staff and Looks for Merger: Leaders of the transparency watchdog are scaling back its work and weighing its continued viability after failing to find a new executive director, reports Politico. In a blog post, co-founder Mike Klein said the nonprofit, which pursues open access to government and political-finance data, has decided “to explore alliances with other organizations similarly motivated, perhaps merging with one of them” to maintain its mission. Sunlight’s president, Christopher Gates, stepped down in January, and the organization ran a $2.4 million deficit in 2014, according to tax filings. Poynter, citing a source at the foundation, said it will lay off five employees in the coming weeks, bringing its headcount to about 20.

Nascar Driver’s Ex Charged With Defrauding Military Charity: Patricia Driscoll was indicted on federal fraud and tax charges for allegedly stealing from the Armed Forces Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit for wounded service members, while serving for 12 years as its president. Ms. Driscoll, 38, of Ellicott City, Md., left the foundation last year amid media and law-enforcement scrutiny of its finances. Court documents did not specify the amount of the alleged theft, but the foundation reported “suspected misappropriations” of more than $599,000 in its 2014 tax filing. Ms. Driscoll is the former girlfriend of Nascar driver Kurt Busch; the couple had a very public split in 2014 that involved accusations of physical and verbal abuse.

Judge Tells FEC to Reconsider Dismissal of Donor-Disclosure Case: The U.S. District Court ruling faults the Federal Election Commission’s Republican members for declining to take up a complaint against two conservative groups that spent millions of dollars on political ads without revealing their funding sources, reports Bloomberg BNA. Judge Christopher Cooper questioned whether the commissioners carefully considered whether the 2010 ads, which targeted House Democrats who backed President Obama’s health-care reform, were “genuine issue ads” or intended to influence the election, a key distinction in regulations on politicking by 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofits. The six-member FEC, which is split between GOP and Democratic appointees, had dismissed the case in a party-line tie vote.
Warren Buffett Says Next-Gen Billionaires Will Champion Giving: The investor and philanthropist, who urges wealthy peers to commit most of their fortunes to charity, said emerging donors like the leaders of Airbnb will exceed him as evangelists for mega-giving. Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, who co-founded the home-sharing company, earlier this year signed the Giving Pledge promoted by Mr. Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. “Every one of them is worth about 10 of me,” Mr. Buffett said in a video address to the Concordia Summit, a meeting of business, government, and nonprofit leaders tackling global problems. “You’re going to have young people, particularly in this day and age, that get wealthy very early, and they’re going to look to the people that are their heroes.”