The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the Government has budgeted to give another $5.5 million dollars of taxpayers’ money to the controversial Clinton Foundation, despite Mrs Clinton’s failed US Presidential bid and controversy over improper ties between the Clinton Foundation, the State Department and donations from foreign governments to the foundation while Ms Clinton was US Secretary of State.
Figures obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union under the Official Information Act show that to date Kiwi taxpayers have forked out $7.7 million to the Clinton Foundation’s “Health Access Initiative” with $2.5 million and $3 million earmarked for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Given the lessons of the Saudi Sheep saga, we are staggered that MFAT appear to still think handing out money for diplomatic purposes is sensible. Even worse, this money comes from the NZ Aid budget which should be going to programes which are the most effective at helping the world’s poor - not sidetracked into political objectives.
It is possible that officials have reason to believe that the Clinton Foundation’s work does provide good value for money, although given the controversy in the US that seems unlikely. The refusal to front up and explain leaves a stench of buying political access.
Given New Zealand’s faux pas in co-sponsoring the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve, and the heavy criticism of New Zealand which has resulted, the continued support of the Clinton Foundation risks even more damage to New Zealand’s ability to wield any influence in the US.
The MFAT response to the Taxpayers’ Union information referred to above is available here.
* Update - claims of 'separate legal entity' *
After a brouhaha on twitter and blogs running MFAT's spin about the “Health Access Initiative” being a "separate legal entity" from the Clinton Foundation, we've issued a press release clarifying the situtaiton:
MFAT EXCUSES RE CLINTON FOUNDATION 'NONSENSE ON STILTS'
The excuse justifying the millions of taxpayer dollars the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will pay the Clinton Health Access Initiative that it is a “separate legal entity” to the Clinton Foundation is pathetic says the Taxpayers’ Union.
Earlier today the Taxpayers’ Union released a response to an Official Information Act request to MFAT which showed that in addition to the $7.7 million already paid, the Government has budgeted another $5.5 million of NZ Aid money for the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says, “This excuse from MFAT is nonsense on stilts and they know it. The Clinton Health Access Initiative is a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation and is responsible for appointing the board members."
“Government spin doctors can try to dance on the head of a pin to justify MFAT's actions, but the fact is the two entities are even described on their own websites as 'affiliated entities'. The Clinton Foundation controls the organisation Kiwi taxpayers are funding."
In September, the New York Times reported that the Initiative would be separated if Clinton won the US Presidential election. The relevant article is available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/us/politics/clinton-foundation-staff.html.
Also available is the most recent publicly available income tax return for the Clinton Health Access Initiative which discloses that the Clinton Foundation is a “Related tax-exempt organization” and appoints members of the board of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (refer to pages 73 to 75 of the document available at http://bit.ly/2jgeLOc).
* Update 2 - petition calling for McCully to veto funding *
Following feedback from a number of members and supporters who emailed or phoned our office, we have launched a petition calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully to veto MFAT giving anymore NZ Aid money to the Clinton Initiative.
You can sign the petition here.