Skip to main content

Bill, Hillary, Chelsea foundation an issue for Clinton 2016

By James Moore, Special to CNN
August 16, 2013 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pictured in October 2012, has become one of the most powerful people in Washington. Here's a look at her life and career through the years. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pictured in October 2012, has become one of the most powerful people in Washington. Here's a look at her life and career through the years.
HIDE CAPTION
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Photos: Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Photos: Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
Hillary Clinton's career in the spotlight
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Clinton Foundation has come under scrutiny for its operations and finances
  • James Moore: As Hillary Clinton will likely run for president, critics are looking for mistakes
  • He says evaluation of Clinton as a presidential candidate may be tied to the foundation
  • Moore: Charity work honorable, but Clintons need to set boundaries on power, wealth

Editor's note: James C. Moore, a Texan, is a business consultant and principal at Big Bend Strategies. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and an on-air TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- Bill and Hillary Clinton never fail to confound Americans. Their political and public service accomplishments often appear diminished by the stumbles in their private lives, real or imagined. No holder of high office, obviously, is ever judged simply for policy initiatives, and that seems especially true of the Clintons.

As Hillary Clinton positions herself for a likely 2016 run for president, the scrutiny she will endure extends, inevitably, to her husband. Journalists and critics on the right will probably have to mine new material, however. What happened in Arkansas and the Oval Office have been more topically tortured than Benghazi.

Fortunately, for the traffickers of faux outrage, the Clintons have offered up the Clinton Foundation, a ponderously complex institution that looks like it might be troubled by internecine squabbles, naked ambition, a touch of greed and an almost impossible to identify set of operational boundaries.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

Regardless of altruistic goals and achievements, the Clinton Foundation has blended friendships and political relationships along with corporate and nonprofit endeavors in a structure that will feed material into the Hannity-Limbaugh-O'Reilly GOP commentary complex through the next presidential election cycle.

Clinton will likely not cross a room in the next few years without it being framed through the perspective of her unstated political plans to become president. News that she was moving with her staff into two floors of the Time-Life building, where the Clinton Foundation is located, may be a part of what prompted the New York Times to publish a detailed account of the nonprofit's operations and their possible implications for a second Clinton presidency.

The former secretary of state is planning initiatives on jobs, women and children under the organization's new title of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which, undoubtedly, will add to her already substantial resume.

There are, of course, always legitimate questions for global nongovernmental organizations and potential conflicts between their programs and the profit motives of their large corporate donors.

Analysis: Hillary Clinton's new office

Increasing her association with the foundation means Clinton will be judged partly by the operational relationships of an institution that has previously been driven by her husband's global celebrity and fundraising skills. This is not a uniformly positive development.

During her primary race against President Barack Obama, the Clinton Foundation ran a deficit of $40 million, possibly because its fundraising was competing with her campaign's. Even though the foundation and the associated Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative had operating revenues of $214 million last year, it still ended with an $8 million deficit.

The Clintons are either very astute at navigating the nether world between corporate millions and honorable charity work, or they are still dealing with the bedazzlement of wealth and power and haven't figured out how to clearly understand what is appropriate and ethical.

The latter can hardly be argued. American presidential politics runs on the billions of multi-national businesses and winning elections is inextricably connected to finessing that dependency to give the converse appearance of independence.

The Times report suggests the Clintons are still figuring this out, and regardless of any philanthropic motivations to help with global problems, they may be harmed by their institutional ineptitude.

One example cited by The Times is a consultancy named Teneo, which was founded by a close associate of Bill Clinton. Monthly retainer fees were said to be up to $250,000 and the former president was a paid advisor, until the bad publicity and collapse of Jon Corzine's MF Global investment firm, a significant client. Hillary Clinton was reportedly angry about the negative media but it's unknown if she had previously commented or had ethical concerns regarding Teneo's recruitment of Clinton Foundation corporate donors to be clients.

Surely, all of this is not without meaning?

Well, maybe. The Clintons cannot be accused of not trying. Their political ambitions are as grand as their visions of global philanthropy.

In just the 2013 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, public and private organizations made more than 70 commitments totaling $1.6 billion, estimated to impact about 2 million American lives. The Clinton Foundation has created significant partnerships around the planet to resolve issues related to health and wellness, economic inequality, climate change and childhood obesity.

Execution in all of these endeavors has been, undoubtedly, imperfect, and, yes, Hillary Clinton's public evaluation as a presidential candidate may be connected to some of those shortcomings. But the greater failure would be to make no effort to help improve a troubled world.

Perhaps the Clintons should simply return to Hope, Arkansas, rent a little house on a quiet side street and paint self-portrait watercolors.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James C. Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Stuart Gitlow says pot is addictive and those who smoke it can experience long-term psychiatric disease.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Gabby Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones say "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined."
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Alan Elsner says Secretary Kerry's early cease-fire draft was leaked and presented as a final document, which served the interests of hard-liners on both sides who don't want the Gaza war to stop.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
Vijay Das says Medicare is a success story that could provide health care for everybody, not just seniors
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
Rick Francona says Israel seems determined to render Hamas militarily ineffective.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says the entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner thinks for himself and refuses to be confined to an ideological box.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
A Christian group's anger over the trailer for "Black Jesus," an upcoming TV show, seems out of place, Jay Parini says
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 2028 GMT (0428 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons: Girls tend to have a "fixed mindset" but they should have a "growth mindset."
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT