Bill Clinton defends family foundation's overseas work

Bill Clinton defends family foundation's overseas work
Former PresidentClinton speaks to participants Wednesday in Denver during the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative America, which is a part of The Clinton Foundation. (Brennan Linsley, AP)

Anyone who donated to the Clinton Foundation didn’t win any favors from Hillary Rodham Clinton while she was secretary of State, former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday, insisting that no one has proved that the foundation did anything wrong in exchange for money it got from foreign governments and companies looking to do business overseas.

"Has anybody proved we've done anything objectionable? No. Have we done a lot of good things with this money? Yes," said Clinton, speaking on an interview with Bloomberg TV in Denver, on the final day of a Clinton Global Initiative conference.


The gathering, which drew about 1,000 people discussing American problems like fraying infrastructure and rural poverty, comes during a period of unprecedented scrutiny for the sprawling charitable network built by the Clintons.

The charities have raised nearly $2 billion, much of it from large corporations. Reports have said donors to the foundation sought State Department approval for business ventures, and also augmented the Clintons' income by paying large speaking fees.

During the interview, Clinton said that he would stop doing paid speeches if his wife is elected president. "Once you get to be president, then you're just making the daily story," he said, though he said he would keep giving speeches on issues that interest him.

As for whether he would continue his work with the foundation, he said he would leave that decision to Hillary. "She'll have to decide what is my highest and best use," he said. "We'll have to talk about it."

He said his daughter, Chelsea, and the foundation's newly appointed director, Donna Shalala, will continue to steer the organization even if he detaches himself from its operations.

"My foundation will be just fine, but I plan to stay at it as long as I can to make sure we are in the best possible shape," he said, saying that's why he has been pushing to raise an endowment for it.

Clinton defended one grant in particular, a $500,000 donation from the government of Algeria for earthquake relief in Haiti. Algeria had been trying to establish a closer relationship with the U.S. The foundation has acknowledged that it should have first gotten approval from the State Department before making the donation.

"We put out the word that if anybody wanted to send me money for Haiti I would forward it on quickly to where it would do the most good," he said, saying he considered the contribution "like a pass-through."

"There are very few countries in the world that I wouldn't accept money from for Haiti," he added. "They weren't giving it to me; they were giving it to the U.N. global coordinator."

Asked whether he would do anything differently, Clinton said couldn't name anything. "What I tried to do there for a while, there had been a lot of money we didn't take, things we didn't do, one or two places we didn't go into because we have a strict no-corruption policy in our operations."

He said the attacks on the foundation "are a tribute to my wife" and her strength as a presidential contender.

"In the end, I think, the foundation will stand or fall on the work it does," he said.

If his wife wins the presidency, Clinton said, he would defer to her on accepting his advice.

"If one thing she knows more than anyone on Earth, it's on what subjects I should be listened to, and what subjects I shouldn't," he said "She's been stuck with it for 40 years."