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April 28, 2015

Opinion: A Double Standard in Gifts to Clinton Foundation

Donations akin to those made by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation have caused legal problems for U.S. corporations when directed to entities abroad, two attorneys write in a Wall Street Journal column. Shannen W. Coffin and Michael J. Edney, who were senior lawyers in the George W. Bush administration, note that companies have run afoul of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and paid fines for making charitable gifts to organizations linked to government officials abroad.

In contrast, they say, a spokesman for President Obama dismissed the controversy over a Canadian mining magnate's $2.35 million in gifts to a charity affiliated with the Clinton Foundation at a time when Hillary Clinton's State Department was weighing approval of a sale of the donor's company.

"Washington cannot credibly demand the most exacting ethical standards of American businesses in their dealings with other countries' officials while failing to require anything close to that standard at home," write Mr. Coffin and Mr. Edney, who represent businesses in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases.