The Clinton Foundation lies at the center of many of Donald Trump's allegations of corruption against Hillary Clinton, but the GOP nominee is not the only one suspicious of the charity organization's operations.
The New York Times editorial board called for Clinton to cut ties with the Clinton Foundation before the November election in a scathing editorial published Tuesday. The foundation, established by former President Bill Clinton in 1997 to fund his presidential library, oversees a number of international charity programs ranging from efforts to end global hunger to campaigns to fight the effects of climate change.
Recently released emails suggest that at least some of the nearly $2 billion the foundation has raised from U.S. corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and various other groups was collected in exchange for special access to the State Department while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state.
The Clinton Foundation has thus far restricted certain foreign contributions during Clinton's presidential bid while promising to eliminate all foreign contributions if Clinton were to win the White House. Bill Clinton has also promised to resign from the Clinton Foundation board were his wife to be elected President.
The New York Times said those changes should happen sooner rather than later. "A wiser course would be to ban contributions from foreign and corporate entities now. If Mrs. Clinton wins, Bill and Chelsea Clinton should both end their operational involvement in the foundation and its affiliates for the duration of her presidency," wrote the Times' editorial board. "The Clinton Foundation has become a symbol of the Clintons’ laudable ambitions, but also of their tangled alliances and operational opacity. If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries. Achieving true distance from the foundation is not only necessary to ensure its effectiveness, it is an ethical imperative for Mrs. Clinton."
The Clinton Foundation, at which Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton are presently board members, oversees programs that address global hunger, the spread of HIV/AIDS, water scarcity, climate change, disaster relief, women's education and a number of other global issues. The foundation notably uses its funds to bankroll its own in-house charity programs, instead of making charitable grants to other independent organizations. But donors to those programs may have been receiving special treatment.
Though Hillary Clinton has no official capacity at the Clinton Foundation, emails released as part of a lawsuit last week revealed that foundation donors may have had special access to Clinton's State Department, according to the Washington Post. The emails showed that Clinton's staff kept in close contact with foundation donors and received requests for favors ranging from a sports executive hoping to score a visa for a British soccer player with a criminal history to rock singer Bono's desire to live stream from a space station at a U2 concert.
Donald Trump has folded the Clinton Foundation revelations into his ongoing narrative of criticism that Clinton is an "establishment" politician in the pocket of wealthy donors and special interests. While the emails have not yet revealed the direct "pay to play" relationship for donors that he has at time alleged existed, it does suggest a less than transparent system of operations at the State Department under Clinton. The Trump campaign was quick to pile on Tuesday after the New York Times' editorial hit the news cycle.
"The fact that even the liberal New York Times thinks the Clinton Foundation presents an unacceptable conflict of interest is a devastating rebuke of Hillary Clinton’s poor judgment and broken ethical compass," Jason Miller, a senior communications advisor to Trump, said in a statement. "At a minimum, Hillary Clinton should heed the growing calls for her corrupt foundation to cease accepting foreign and corporate contributions immediately. With each donation she becomes more and more compromised."