WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton said Monday if Hillary Clinton is elected president, he will step down from the board of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, stop fundraising for the organization and end the practice of taking money from foreign sources.
The announcement comes as the Donald Trump campaign and his allies are ramping up attacks on Hillary Clinton over favors foundation contributors may have obtained when she was secretary of state.
Bill Clinton, in an “open letter” said, “If she is elected, we will immediately implement the following changes: The Foundation will accept contributions only from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S.-based independent foundations, whose names we will continue to make public on a quarterly basis. And we will change the official name from the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to the Clinton Foundation. While I will continue to support the work of the Foundation, I will step down from the Board and will no longer raise funds for it.”
Below, letter from former President Bill Clinton…
When I left the White House in 2001 and returned to life as a private citizen, I wanted to continue working in areas I had long cared about, where I believed I could still make an impact. That’s what the Clinton Foundation has tried to do, by creating opportunities and solving problems faster, better, at lower cost so that more people are empowered to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. I am grateful to everyone in the U.S. and across the world who has been involved in our work, and especially grateful to Chelsea for her role in increasing scope and impact.
From day one, the Foundation has pursued its mission through partnerships with governments, the private sector, other foundations, and philanthropists, creating networks of cooperation that are focused on results. In 2005, we convened the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to give people all over the world the chance to do the same thing.
These efforts have improved millions of lives around the world. For example:
- More than 11.5 million people in over 70 countries have access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS drugs at 90 percent lower cost through our affiliated Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), including more than 800,000 children. That’s more than half the adults and three quarters of the children on treatment today.
- CHAI has also organized the training of thousands of health care workers as part of an effort to address critical shortages in poor countries and help others build strong, self-sufficient health systems, and expanded access to high-quality, low-cost treatment and diagnostics for many other diseases and conditions.
- Through our work with the affiliated Alliance for a Healthier Generation, more than 18 million students in over 31,000 American schools, in every state, now have healthier food and more physical activity options, and our agreements with the beverage industry have reduced the caloric intake from drinks by 90 percent in the vast majority of U.S. schools.
- Our Health Matters Initiative is working in six communities to improve health and has worked with innovative drug companies to help reverse opioid overdoses and combat prescription painkiller misuse by lowering the cost of autoinjection naloxone and making naloxone nasal spray available to every high school in the U.S. at no cost.
- The Foundation’s Haiti initiative has promoted sustainable investment resulting in the planting of more than 5 million trees, the development of 5 new agricultural supply chains benefiting more than 4,000 smallholder farmers, and support for more than 20 entrepreneurial businesses. And members of CGI’s Haiti Action Network have made more than 100 Commitments to Action to strengthen the health, education, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors.
- Our climate change projects have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 33,500 tons annually across the U.S. We’ve also partnered on reforestation and land restoration efforts in South America and East Africa, and are working with island nations to develop renewable energy projects and reduce dependence on expensive imported diesel and petroleum.
- More than 500,000 people in Latin America are benefiting from social enterprises that connect people to job training, supply chains, and entrepreneurship opportunities.
- More than 105,000 farmers in East Africa have dramatically increased their yields and their incomes.
- And, through Too Small to Fail (TSTF), we are working with the faith-based community, pediatricians, community and business leaders, and Head Start educators to provide parents with resources in everyday settings to support their young children’s early brain and language development, and have reached 155,000 parents with tips through direct text messages.
I have found great joy in simple moments shared with people who are benefiting from our work: holding a baby who is alive and healthy because he now has access to AIDS medication; planting rows of seeds with smallholder farmers in Malawi and hearing about how our programs have lifted their incomes, enabling them to send their children to school and electrify their homes; meeting with female entrepreneurs in Peru who are earning a good living for the first time in their lives by providing essential goods to their remote communities. This work has been my life for the last 15 years, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Since Hillary began her presidential campaign in 2015, Chelsea and I have made it clear that the work the Clinton Foundation started should continue if Hillary is elected, but that changes would be necessary. While it would be presumptive to assume a victory in November, now that Hillary is her party’s nominee, it would be irresponsible not to plan for it.
If Hillary is elected president, the Foundation’s work, funding, global reach, and my role in it will present questions that must be resolved in a way that keeps the good work going while eliminating legitimate concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Over the last several months, members of the Foundation’s senior leadership, Chelsea, and I have evaluated how the Foundation should operate if Hillary is elected. Throughout the process, our top priorities have been preserving our most important programs, supporting the people who work for the Foundation and its affiliated programs, and resolving legitimate conflict of interest questions.
If she is elected, we will immediately implement the following changes: The Foundation will accept contributions only from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S.-based independent foundations, whose names we will continue to make public on a quarterly basis. And we will change the official name from the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to the Clinton Foundation.
While I will continue to support the work of the Foundation, I will step down from the Board and will no longer raise funds for it.
Much of the Foundation’s international work, like that of most global NGOs, is funded in part by donor governments’ bilateral aid programs. If Hillary is elected, we will transition those programs out of the Foundation to other organizations committed to continuing their work. Doing this in a way that ensures continuity and is respectful of all the employees working around the world will take time. We will complete these transitions as soon as we can do so responsibly.
With respect to CHAI, I will step down from the Board. We, along with the CHAI Board, are additionally considering a range of options to ensure that its vital work will continue and will announce details soon.
The Clinton Foundation was originally established to build the Clinton Presidential Center and Library in Little Rock, and the work there will continue regardless of the outcome of the election. Since opening its doors 12 years ago, more than 4 million people have visited the Center and it has helped to inspire new generations of leaders—including through the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a bipartisan educational partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. The Center has lived up to my vision and much more, including as an important educational and cultural resource and driver of economic growth for the Little Rock community.
Finally, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has accomplished even more than I dreamed when it began in 2005, and we’ve made the decision that the Annual Meeting this September will be the last, and that we will no longer hold our CGI America meetings. Nine years ago in my book Giving, I wrote, “I want to continue these meetings for at least a decade, with the objective of creating a global network of citizen activists who reach across the divides of our interdependent world to build real communities of shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, and a genuine sense of belonging.” That is exactly what CGI, its members, and its dedicated staff have done.
We started CGI to create a new kind of community built around the new realities of our modern world, where problem-solving requires the active partnership of government, business, and civil society. We’ve brought together leaders from across sectors and around the world both to talk about our challenges, and to commit publicly to actually do something about them. It was something different, but our bet paid off: there was a hunger for the chance to make an impact that brought together people and organizations with the resources to make a difference with people who have the knowledge and experience to turn good ideas into action. Corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations began combining their strengths and finding entirely new approaches to old problems. CGI quickly became an embodiment of what works best in the 21st-century world, and what has been behind all of the Clinton Foundation’s work since the very beginning: networks of cooperation.
This partnership model, which may seem self-evident today, was simply not how philanthropy and corporate responsibility worked over a decade ago. Today, members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made more than 3,500 commitments that are already improving over 430 million lives in more than 180 countries. These projects will continue to make an impact around the world and in the U.S. The idea that working together beats going it alone has caught on well beyond our CGI community.
It’s been one of the great honors of my life to be part of this special community, and I hope the hard work and benefits of CGI’s great staff and its members’ creative cooperation will keep rippling out into the world. The commitment model has been adopted by other forums and I hope that more will do so, or that new organizations will arise to do this work. While this year will be the last for the CGI Annual Meeting and CGI America, I hope and believe we can and should preserve CGI University (CGI U), our meeting that brings university students together to develop innovative solutions to important challenges in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to continuing CGI U and all of the activities of the Clinton Presidential Center, the Foundation will also continue those domestic programs that can be maintained with the funding restrictions we announced today.
The process of determining the Clinton Foundation’s future if Hillary becomes President has not been easy. It’s an unprecedented situation, so there’s no blueprint to follow. Part of what has made the Foundation successful over the last 15 years has been our understanding that solving problems and creating opportunities faster, better, and in the most cost-effective way sometimes means changing course.
Working alongside so many passionate people around the world who share our goals and believe in our approach has made these 15 years one of the most rewarding chapters of my life, as I know it has been for Chelsea. While my role in that work will change, the work itself should continue because so many people are committed to it and so many more are relying on it.
Chelsea and I are very proud of what the Clinton Foundation, its affiliates, and its partners have accomplished, and we are profoundly grateful to the staff, to those who have funded our work, and to all the people with whom we have worked and from whom we have learned so much. We will try to be faithful to them, their values, and their work in effecting this transition as quickly and effectively as possible.