Jan 1, 12:02 PM (ET)
By SHARON THEIMER
WASHINGTON (AP) – Foreign countries including Saudi Arabia and Norway gave millions of dollars to former President Bill Clinton’s charity as Hillary Rodham Clinton served her first year as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
A donor list released on New Year’s Day by the William J. Clinton Foundation shows that Saudi Arabia and Norway each donated somewhere between $10 million to $25 million to the former president’s charity.
The biggest donors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave more than $25 million.
The Clintons agreed to annually disclose the names of donors to the former president’s foundation to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest between his fundraising abroad and his wife’s role in helping direct administration foreign policy.
“I am deeply grateful to the many generous contributors who made it possible for my foundation to accomplish so much in 2009, including increasing the number of people on lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment, helping cities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and inspiring millions of children to lead healthier lives,” Bill Clinton said in a written statement.
In releasing the 2009 list Friday, the foundation didn’t identify individual contributors’ employers, nationalities or any other details. It gave only ranges rather than precise donations, and didn’t provide a fundraising total.
The foundation said that more than 90 percent of the gifts it received last year were in donations of $250 or less.
The Clintons were under no legal obligation to identify foundation donors. Presidents typically do not disclose the names of those who give to their foundations, even when the givers include foreign governments. Former President George W. Bush hasn’t said who is contributing to construction of his presidential library in Texas, for example.
The William J. Clinton Foundation works in the United States and around the world on such issues as health care, particularly HIV/AIDS; climate change; and economic development. It also runs the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., which includes Clinton’s presidential library.
The Clintons released the first foundation donor list in December 2008. They also agreed that new donations from foreign governments would be examined by government ethics officers. An Obama spokesman said at the time that the agreement would meet the incoming president’s transparency promise and help to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
In addition to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ foundation, Canadian mining tycoon and Radcliffe Foundation chief executive Frank Giustra, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and UNITAID each gave more than $25 million.
Bill Clinton joined Giustra on a 2005 trip to Kazakhstan, whose human-rights record Hillary Rodham Clinton had criticized, and within days after the pair met with Kazakhstan’s president, Giustra’s business lined up preliminary agreements giving it rights to buy into uranium projects controlled by a Kazakhstan state-owned enterprise. Bill Clinton has said he had nothing to do with the arrangement.
In UNITAID’s case, almost all of the money simply passed through the foundation to buy commodities, the foundation said.
Besides Norway and Saudi Arabia, those giving $10 million to $25 million included AUSAID, the Australian government’s overseas aid program; longtime Democratic Party donors and fundraisers Stephen Bing and Fred Eychaner; and COPRESIDA, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, whose donation passed through the foundation for commodity procurement.