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)

May 15, 2015: Dozens of media organizations and journalists have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

The foundation’s records show that there are not many news outlets who would report on the foundation and didn’t donate some money to it. The following have given at least $1 million:

  • Carlos Slim, the Mexican multibillionaire who is also the largest New York Times shareholder.
  • James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, and the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
  • Newsmax Media, the conservative media outlet.
  • Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Reuters news service.

Others to donate smaller amounts include Google, Bloomberg, Richard Mellon Scaife, Mort Zuckerman, AOL, HBO, Viacom, Turner Broadcasting (CNN), Twitter, Comcast, NBC Universal, PBS, the Washington Post, and many more. (Politico, 5/15/2015)