The Clinton Foundation reportedly is seeing an increase in contributions from foreign governments after ending a self-imposed ban on such donations, raising new ethical questions as Hillary Clinton prepares for a possible 2016 presidential campaign.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited the foundation’s online database, recent donors to the foundation include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany, and a Canadian government agency promoting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The foundation instituted a foreign gifts ban in 2009 after Hilllary Clinton was named Secretary of State by President Barack Obama. The Journal reports that the ban was not a total one, and some donations were permitted after receiving the approval of State Department ethics officials. Hillary Clinton re-joined the foundation after leaving the State Department in 2013 and has fronted a $250 million endowment campaign.
Ethics experts have told the Journal that the Foundation should re-imposed its ban while Hillary Clinton considers a possible White House bid.
“Now that she is gearing up to run for president, the same potential exists for foreign governments to curry favor with her as a potential president of the United States,” said Kirk Hanson, director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.
“She can’t recuse herself [if she becomes president],” said James Thurber, director of American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. “Whether it influences her decision making is questionable, but it is a legitimate thing to focus on by her political opposition.”