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August 31, 2016

Democrats Join Call for Clintons to Separate From Foundation

Some Democratic leaders and party officials are calling for the Clinton family to fully cut ties with its namesake charity if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, The Wall Street Journal writes. The Clinton Foundation has become a major campaign issue amid the escalating release of emails and other documents suggesting foundation donors sought access to and favors from the agency during Ms. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

The charity has said it will not accept contributions from foreign or corporate entities during a prospective Hillary Clinton administration. Bill Clinton has pledged to give up his foundation role if his wife is elected, as the Associated Press reports, but their daughter, Chelsea, is slated to remain on its board.

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona and William Galston, a Brookings Institution scholar who worked in the Bill Clinton White House, are among Democrats who told the Journal those changes do not go far enough to prevent the appearance of conflicts of interest. The New York Times made a similar argument in a widely cited editorial Tuesday, calling for the Clintons to sever ties with the foundation. Former senator Russ Feingold, who is running to recapture his old seat, said the family should consider shuttering the charity outright if Ms. Clinton becomes president, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

In a New York Times opinion column, Richard Painter, a lawyer who served as White House ethics chief under President George W. Bush, says there is no evidence that ties between Ms. Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation violated laws or ethics rules but are typical of the favoritism that pervades government dealings with outside entities.

“If favoritism by political appointees toward outside persons and organizations were illegal, the United States government would be quite different than it is today,” writes Mr. Painter. He goes on to argue that for the sake of appearances the foundation should continue without any Clinton involvement but that he is voting for Ms. Clinton.

Elsewhere, medical-news site Stat examines whether the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a foundation offshoot credited with keeping a lid on drug prices in the developing world and helping African and Asian countries improve health-care delivery, can survive the loss of Bill Clinton’s clout; and philanthropy scholar Benjamin Soskis writes in The Atlantic on changing views about the nexus of politics and giving in light of this year’s unprecedented scrutiny of the presidential candidates’ philanthropic histories.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion column on the issues underlying the Clinton Foundation uproar and articles from our archive about Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s charitable activities.