September 20, 2007: If Hillary becomes president, Bill Clinton would disclose future donors to the Clinton Foundation, but not past ones.

On September 20, 2007, with Hillary Clinton running for president, her husband Bill Clinton says of his work with the Clinton Foundation and his presidential library, “Now we don’t have to publish all of our donors, for example, and if Hillary became president, I think there would be all these questions about whether people would try to win favor with her by giving money to me. You know it wouldn’t work, and I don’t think they would. Still, there are legitimate questions.”  (The Economist, 9/20/2007)

Seven days later, he says, “If she becomes president…I will disclose all the donors to our library and activities. For the people that have already given me money, I don’t think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware, and there is not.” (The Washington Post, 9/28/2007)

December 17, 2008: The Clinton Foundation’s donor list includes foreign governments as well as business leaders.

Clinton pays an official visit to King Abdullah, in Saudi Arabia, on March 30, 2012. (Credit: Reuters)

Clinton pays an official visit to King Abdullah, in Saudi Arabia, on March 30, 2012. (Credit: Reuters)

Since it began in 1997, the Clinton Foundation had never revealed who its donors were, as it is not legally required to do so. But on this day, with conflict of interest an increasing issue due to Hillary Clinton about to become President Obama’s secretary of state, the foundation releases its list of donors for the first time. Over 200,000 people and entities gave over $500 million to the foundation since it was created. Some of these donations do show conflict of interest concerns, especially in relation to Hillary’s new secretary of state role.

In 2015, the Washington Post will report that the 2008 list of donors “included foreign governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which could ask the State Department to take their side in international arguments. And it included a variety of other figures who might benefit from a relationship—or the appearance of a relationship—with the secretary. A businessman close to the ruler of Nigeria. Blackwater Training Center, a controversial military contractor. And dozens of powerful American business leaders, including some prominent conservatives, such as Rupert Murdoch.” Additionally, “It appeared that some wealthy donors—who traveled with [Bill] Clinton or attended his events—also had made valuable business connections at the same time.” For instance, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra “attended Clinton-related events and met the leaders of Kazakhstan and Colombia, countries where he would later make significant business deals.” (The Washington Post, 6/2/2015) (The New York Times, 12/18/2008)

Former US Treasury Department official Matthew Levitt says donations from “countries where [the US has] particularly sensitive issues and relations” will invariably raise conflict of interest concerns. “The real question is to what extent you can really separate the activities and influence of any husband and wife, and certainly a husband and wife team that is such a powerhouse.”

Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson says the disclosure of donors should ensure that there would be “not even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” (The New York Times, 12/18/2008)

June 2010—October 2010: Secret donations to a Clinton Foundation offshoot are given around the same time Clinton’s State Department allows Russia to buy a company that controls much of the uranium production in the US.

Ian Telfer (Credit: Galit Rodan / Bloomberg News)

Ian Telfer (Credit: Galit Rodan / Bloomberg News)

In 2009, a branch of Rosatom, a Russian company linked to the Russian government, buys a 17 percent stake in Uranium One, a Canadian mining company. In 2010, it wants to increase that to a controlling 51 percent stake. Some US politicians are concerned, because Uranium One owns uranium mines around the world, and uranium is a strategic asset due to its use in nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. For instance, Senator John Barrasso (R) writes to President Obama, saying the deal “would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity. Equally alarming, this sale gives [them] a significant stake in uranium mines in Kazakhstan.”

According to the Clinton Foundation’s disclosure records, Ian Telfer, the Canadian head of Uranium One, donates less than $250,000 to the foundation, in 2007. However, Canadian tax records show that Telfer gives $2.4 million more from 2009 to 2012. Additional millions in donations are given around this time by other people with ties to Uranium One.

In June 2010, former President Bill Clinton is paid $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow, one of his highest speaking fees. He is paid by a Russian investment bank with ties to the Russian government. That same month, Rosatom makes its deal to get a majority stake in Uranium One. However, the deal can’t go forward without approval from a group of US cabinet officials called the Committee on Foreign Investment, including Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. In October 2010, the committee gives its approval. The committee’s decision-making process is shrouded in secrecy, but it is said the approval goes relatively smoothly.

By 2013, the Russian company will own 100% of Uranium One, and they will have control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the US. The New York Times will later comment, “Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.”

Furthermore, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra built a company that later merged with Uranium One, and he gives at least $31 million to the Clinton Foundation. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015) In 2007, Giustra cofounded a Canadian offshoot of the Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), which has been accused of being a “slush fund” that allows politically toxic foreign contributors to anonymously donate money to the Clinton Foundation in the hopes of gaining political influence with Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015) The secret donations from Telfer and others connected to Uranium One all appear to have gone through the CGEP. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015)

November 2012: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) does not give the Clinton Foundation its annual stamp of approval.

The Better Business Bureau accredited business logo. (Credit: The Better Business Bureau)

The Better Business Bureau accredited business logo. (Credit: The Better Business Bureau)

It rates the foundation as not meeting their standards in six categories, mostly having to do with transparency. (Better Business Bureau, 11/2012) The BBB has yet to give its full approval since then.

In March 2015, after numerous news reports criticize the foundation, the BBB will say their review of the foundation is “in progress.” That will still be the case in April 2016. (Better Business Bureau, 3/28/2015) (Better Business Bureau, 4/4/2016)

May 21, 2015: The Clinton Foundation confirms that it received millions in previously unreported payments by foreign governments and corporations for speeches given by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The foundation won’t give the exact amount, but it is somewhere between 12 and 26 million dollars. Foundation officials say the income was not disclosed publicly because it was considered revenue, rather than donations. CNN calls this “the latest in a string of admissions from the foundation that it didn’t always abide by a 2008 ethics agreement to disclose its funding sources publicly.” (CNN, 5/21/2015)