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Friday, 10 April 2015

Clinton Foundation's Shoddy and Dangerous Haiti Programme

Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House in 2016 will need to answer many major questions about her integrity and judgement as much as what she might do about the Ukraine, ISIS or China’s rise. Her campaign hit trouble even before it began – on using a private email address throughout her tenure as secretary of state, claims of ‘missing emails’ from that account that might compromise her official role and, more recently, on conflict of interest claims regarding foreign government donations to the Clinton Foundation. Yet, there are also rather disturbing concerns about the Foundation’s role in post-earthquake Haiti, the philanthropy’s major claim to fame.

Most recently, it's come to light that after Hillary Clinton, as US Secretary of State, lobbied Russia for Boeing, and the latter won a bid to sell 50 737 passenger jets, the Clinton Foundation received a $900,000 donation from Boeing for its programmes in Haiti. (See below for the shoddy and dangerous character of some the Foundations's programmes in Haiti).  
The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments – including governments with a dubious record on human rights - during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US secretary of state, skirting dangerously close to outright violation of conflict-of-interest agreements it had made with the Obama administration. Other reports in 2013 suggested a prominent businessman and donor to the Clinton Foundation secured major contracts from Kazakhstan after former President Bill Clinton introduced him to the central Asian republic’s president - Businessman Frank Giustra, who secured lucrative uranium mining contracts, and later donated over $30 million to the Clinton Foundation, with a promise of a further $100 million, is on the foundation’s governing Board of Directors.
In response, the Clinton Foundation argued that it was more transparent than the law required and would continue to be once Hillary declared her presidential candidacy. But this is unlikely to quell criticism, however, as the Clintons and controversy are familiar bedfellows.
The Clinton Foundation’s work in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake has been roundly condemned by independent agencies and local people themselves: the Clinton Foundation's first contributions to Haiti -- "hurricane-proof . . . emergency shelters that can also serve as schools . . . to ensure the safety of vulnerable populations in high-risk areas during the hurricane season" – were revealed as shoddy and dangerous. 

An investigation by The Nation found the following: temperatures in the shelters/classrooms reached over 100 degrees, causing kids headaches and other illnesses; trailers also showed high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen (and also a cause of asthma and other lung diseases); trailers were manufactured by Clayton Homes, which is being sued by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for having provided formaldehyde-laced trailers to Hurricane Katrina victims; and Clayton Homes is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway; Buffet was was an early and high-profile member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Yet, Republicans who attack the Clintons are unlikely to recall the scandals that surrounded high profile members of their own party – John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, for example – who set up non-political foundations that called into question their objectivity. Nor do they much care for the people of Haiti.

In the end, politicians are interested in power; their foundation activities reflect that fundamental principle.

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