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Bill Clinton to Name Donors as Part of Obama Deal - NYTimes.com

The New York Times

November 30, 2008

Bill Clinton to Name Donors as Part of Obama Deal

CHICAGO — Former President Bill Clinton has agreed to disclose publicly the names of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation as part of an accord with President-elect Barack Obama that clears the way for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to become secretary of state, Democrats close to both sides said on Saturday.

Mr. Clinton has kept his contributor list secret, as permitted under federal law, but he decided to publish it to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest with Mrs. Clinton’s duties as the nation’s top diplomat, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the agreement with Mr. Obama’s team. Mr. Obama plans to announce Mrs. Clinton’s nomination on Monday, according to advisers.

The disclosure of contributors is among nine conditions that Mr. Clinton signed off on during discussions with representatives of Mr. Obama; all go beyond the requirements of law. Among other issues, he agreed to incorporate his Clinton Global Initiative separately from his foundation so that he has less direct involvement. The initiative, which promotes efforts to fight disease, poverty and climate change, would no longer hold annual meetings outside of the United States or accept new contributions from foreign governments.

Mr. Clinton also agreed to submit his future personal speeches and business activities for review by State Department ethics officials and, if necessary, by the White House counsel’s office.

The former president’s web of business and charitable activities raised questions about how he could continue to travel the world soliciting multimillion-dollar contributions for his foundation and collecting six-figure speaking fees for himself from foreign organizations and individuals while his wife conducted American foreign policy.

Lawyers for Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama spent days crafting the agreement in hopes of addressing any concerns about Mr. Clinton’s activities. He had previously said he would do whatever the Obama transition team asked in order to make it possible for his wife to serve without questions. Mr. Obama’s team said it was satisfied that the concessions Mr. Clinton made should defuse any potential controversy. Until Saturday, only some elements of the agreement had become public.

Neither Mr. Obama’s office nor Mr. Clinton’s office would comment. The disclosure of Mr. Clinton’s full agreement on a Saturday night might have the effect of drawing less attention to it while keeping the focus Monday on Mrs. Clinton. Her nomination will be announced along with the retention of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the appointment of Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant, as national security adviser.

In the eight years since he left the White House, Mr. Clinton has built a new life as a businessman and international philanthropist, which has made him rich while he helped fight AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and other maladies around the world. Since its formation a decade ago, the William J. Clinton Foundation has raised more than $500 million to build a presidential library and to finance charitable programs.

Mr. Clinton has never revealed his contributors, but among those whose identities have become known over the years are the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, the governments of Kuwait and Qatar and a tycoon who is the son-in-law of Ukraine’s former authoritarian president.

For his speeches, Mr. Clinton could command as much as $425,000 for one hour, often paid by foreign companies or individuals who might have an interest in American foreign policy. He gave at least 54 such speeches last year for a total of $10.1 million. Even as his wife was first approached by Mr. Obama about the State Department job this month, the former president was heading to Kuwait to speak at an economic symposium sponsored by the National Bank of Kuwait.

To eliminate any concerns, Mr. Clinton turned over to Mr. Obama’s team the names of all 208,000 individuals and organizations that have given money since 1997. The agreement will ensure that the foundation releases the names to the public as well by the end of December. The names will be divided into categories giving the general level of contributions rather than the precise dollar amount. Any future donors will be disclosed as long as Mrs. Clinton is in the cabinet.

The Clinton Global Initiative, now part of the foundation, will be incorporated separately to establish some distance from the former president in its day-to-day activities. Mr. Clinton will continue to host gatherings of the initiative and invite participants who pay registration fees, but will not solicit sponsorships, according to the agreement.

The agreement, most of which will become effective once Mrs. Clinton is confirmed, will prevent the Clinton Global Initiative from holding just the sort of meeting that it is sponsoring in Hong Kong starting Tuesday, the day after Mr. Obama’s scheduled announcement. The meeting was scheduled to be the first of a series around the world bringing together leaders of government, business and nonprofit groups to discuss education, energy, climate change and public health.

Four other initiatives under the umbrella of the Clinton foundation — focused on H.I.V./AIDS, climate change, development and sustainable growth — will continue to do work under agreements with foreign governments that provide financing, including Britain, France, Norway and Sweden. But if any of those countries increases its commitment or a new country decides to contribute, the foundation will notify State Department ethics officials.




Bill Clinton to Name Donors as Part of Obama Deal - NYTimes.com

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