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 12, 2014 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
To prevent war with North Korea over a comedy, what would Dennis Rodman say to Kim Jong Un? Movie critic Gene Seymour weighs in.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Michael Werz says in light of the spying cases, U.S. is seen as a paranoid society that can't tell friends from foes.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Eric Liu explains why in his new book, he calls himself "Chinese American" -- without a hyphen.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
John Bare says hands-on learning can make a difference in motivating students to acquire STEM skills.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Karl Alexander and Linda Olson find blacks and whites live in urban poverty with similar backgrounds, but white privilege wins out as they grow older.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
ADVERTISEMENT