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September 28, 2015

Many Big-Name Invitees Skipped Clinton Global Initiative Event

Pope Francis, Elton John, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen were among dozens of leaders, celebrities, and donors who said no to invitations to participate in this year's Clinton Global Initiative meeting, according to Politico. Sources familiar with planning of the Clinton Foundation's marquee event, which began Saturday in New York, said it received a higher percentage of snubs than in years past, and that major corporate sponsors are becoming harder to attract.

The insiders attributed the tepid response to Hillary Clinton's absence from this year's gathering and to politically charged controversies over the foundation's inner workings and ties to foreign interests that have dogged Ms. Clinton's presidential campaign. "They've had a lot of rejections from people—both for membership renewals and speaking roles this year," said one source, citing "the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press."

Foundation officials called this year's guest lineup "extremely strong" and said revenue from corporate sponsorship has grown since 2014, with firms such as Apple and GlaxoSmithKline joining the event for the first time. The foundation expects to draw billions of dollars in new pledges at the conference to advance its work on public health, poverty, and other global development issues.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article about the kickoff of this year's Clinton Global Initiative.