The Clinton Foundation spent less than 6 percent of its budget on charitable grants in 2014, according to documents the organization filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2015.
During the 2014 tax year, the tax-exempt foundation spent a total of $91.2 million, but less than $5.2 million of that money, or 5.7 percent, was granted to charitable organizations, the group’s tax filings show. The Clinton Foundation raised nearly $178 million in 2014. The organization’s charitable grants also declined significantly when compared to its donations in 2013. Compared to its 2013 charitable grants of $8.8 million, the Clinton Foundation’s grants in 2014 declined by more than 40 percent, even as its revenue over the same period increased by 20 percent. According to the tax filings, the Clinton Foundation is currently sitting on $354 million in assets, including $125 million in cash or cash equivalents and $108 million in property or equipment.
The tax records, which were filed with the IRS in November of 2015, show that the Clinton Foundation spent far more on overhead expenses like travel ($7.9 million) than it did on charitable grants in 2014. The group also spent more on rent and office supplies (a total of $6.6 million) than it did on charitable grants. The Clinton Foundation’s IRS forms show that even its depreciation expense ($5.3 million) — an accounting classification that takes into account the wear and tear of an organization’s assets — exceeded the tax-exempt organization’s charitable grant outlays.
Supplemental tables within the Form 990 filed with the IRS show that the Clinton Foundation’s largest charitable grant was a $2 million payment to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG), a joint project founded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. Bruce Lindsey, the board chairman for the Clinton Foundation in 2014, also served on AHG’s board that year, according to the organization’s 2014 tax filings. Of the $16.3 million AHG organization spent in 2014, only $349,022, or 2.1 percent, was spent on charitable grants, the group’s tax filings show.
The Clinton Foundation’s largest single charitable grant to an organization not founded by the Clinton Foundation or managed by one of its board members was a $700,000 check to the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, a non-profit founded by actor Sean Penn. That organization reportedly spent more than $126,000 on first-class flights for the actor. Other charitable grants from the Clinton Foundation included $200,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation and $37,500 for the Sesame Workshop in New York City.
Clinton Foundation defenders say the total amount of its charitable grants is irrelevant and argue that the bulk of the Clinton Foundation’s charitable work is done by salaried employees. A review of the organization’s tax filings and statements from its own executives about the group’s “commercial proposition,” however, suggests that this may not be the case.
The Clinton Foundation’s three largest charitable “program service accomplishments,” according to its tax reports, are the Clinton Global Initiative ($23.2 million), the Clinton Presidential Library ($12.3 million), and the Clinton Climate Initiative ($8.3 million). The Clinton Global Initiative, which exists to organize and produce a lavish annual meeting headlined by former president Bill Clinton, was characterized by the New York Times as a “glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities,” hardly a portrait of the kind of charitable work that directly impacts the lives of the needy.
Ira Magaziner, a top former Clinton Foundation executive, also explicitly rejected that the group’s climate change activities were charitable in nature. “This is not charity,” Magaziner told The Atlantic in 2007. “The whole thing is bankable. It’s a commercial proposition.”
In fact, the bulk of the charitable work lauded by the Clinton Foundation’s boosters — the distribution of drugs to impoverished people in developing countries — is no longer even performed by the Clinton Foundation. Those activities were spun off in 2010 and are now managed by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a completely separate non-profit organization.