Sunday, May 03, 2015

Shut Down Clinton Foundation

The basic business model of any foundation undertaking charitable work is, the patriarch makes lots of money in legal manners and in a good old tradition of 'giving back to society' creates the corpus fund to give away money to actual groups and people who undertake the hard task of charitable work. The patriarch puts right people at the helm of the foundation and then puts in process, tradition in place so as it continues to function well, continues to adhere to it's original goals.

Clinton Foundation does not adhere to this traditional business model. First of all, Bill or Hillary didn't make any multi-millions to give away in any noticeable manner. Clintons are not Gates Family of Microsoft. So then what is the source of funds at Clinton Foundation? Bill's 'connections and network' all over the world developed as American President. However, there is a very fine line between 'sleaze, corruption' and 'networking' when another of your family member is seeking the highest elected office of the land. 

Bill Clinton could have opted to a model where he rubs his 'start dust' to raise money for many, many other competent and qualified non-profit organizations undertaking great work. Why did he opt for spending all of his foundation money in-house? Gaining competence in undertaking volunteer work is not easy, it takes years of dedicated expert involvement and such operations are expected to be separate from fund raising. No wonder, many donors are noticing sub-optimal ways of Clinton Foundation.

Once you cross the line of no-spending in-house and just using Clinton Foundation as fund raising org, one immediately realizes for that you do not need a foundation. Bill Clinton can always give a speech to raise money for a worthy cause. Given that Hillary Clinton is seeking Oval Office, the prudent course for Clinton Family is to shut down the foundation. If Hillary wins the election, she will get an opportunity to make the difference in the world much beyond what Clinton Foundation would do in its lifetime. Then why not make the seeking of this highest office 'clean, corruption-free and with legitimacy'? The specter of Feds coming after Clinton Foundation and shutting it down due to corruption / non-transparency while Hillary is in Oval Office; that will be a political disaster sapping all the political capital of President Hillary Clinton. Remember, when Bill Clinton was President; there was no Clinton Foundation. There is enough of baggage always there with Clintons, she would not need one more albatross of Clinton Foundation to sag her political energy.

You may ask, what about then Chelsea Clinton? What about her? Monies flowing to Clinton Foundation are not of her making. May be it will not be a bad idea for her to start a business or to make a corporate career to rake in millions first and then she can worry about giving those to charities. And if she is all driven by dedicating her life to volunteering and charitable work; then great, she can pick from 'n' number of other charitable trusts around the world to undertake this noble work. It does not have to be this Clinton Foundation nor Clinton Foundation as a lame and essentially illegitimate vehicle for 'good acts towards to humanity' in an attempt to mimic Royalty of Great Britain as the 'family in the business of doing good all over the world'.  

You really marvel at what a 'sleaze machine' Bill Clinton has created in his post-presidency years. Apart from hobnobbing global leaders and celebrities - Davos style - it is hard to note any high impact work done. We know that just getting global leaders together and seeping tea together, nothing much consequential happens. Global leaders respond only when their respective politics generate enough pressure to act. Bill Clinton should know it - how much did he care about 'kumbaya talks' with other world leaders when he was in the Oval Office? He allowed Rwanda Genocide and then regretted in his post-presidency years. What lack of new 'idea' prevented Bill Clinton from intervening in Rwanda Genocide? There was not any lack of new ideas, old ideas like stopping genocide by force were perfectly actionable - there was no enough domestic political pressure to intervene and Bill Clinton allowed thousands to get massacred. 

The world will not miss anything if Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation wind down. But the world would miss a lot in an embattled presidency of Hillary Clinton if she wins the Oval Office and the mess of Clinton Foundation pulls her down. Continued existence of Clinton Foundation is simply manifestation of a flagrant absence of basic political decency on part of Clinton Family.

(Republicans are not going to demand winding down Clinton Foundation. For them it is a never ending source of political troubles to their principle political opponent; a classic advantage not to be squandered in a competitive electoral politics.)

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