When Hillary Clinton revealed her intention to step down from the Clinton Foundation board last week, her supporters were reminded once again of why they find her so consistently unappealing.
Her intention may seem positive. As Bill Clinton made known on Monday, he and his wife will both be distancing themselves from the non-profit organization if Hillary Clinton is elected, in order to “[resolve] legitimate conflict of interest questions.” However, this seemingly honorable action naturally raises concerns regarding the foundation’s legitimacy during Bill Clinton’s presidency and more recently, during Hillary Clinton’s stint as Secretary of State and candidacy.
In fact, the foundation has become the subject of strongly polarized controversy over its nineteen active years, due to its acceptance of large donations from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. It seems that these donations were not received during Clinton’s time as Secretary of state, but critics still question the foundation’s legitimacy in regards to the monetary influence of wealthy donors and large corporations during that time. Furthermore, Doug Band, a founder of the Clinton Global Initiative, sought favors and meetings for Clinton Foundation Donors. Although success in Band’s endeavor cannot be proven, his effort reinforces an assumed connection between money and political motive that has become a frighteningly familiar theme throughout the course of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In addition, the Clinton Foundation tax returns seem to indicate that Bill Clinton’s aides may have used tax dollars to fund the foundation.
Critics would find these allegations all somewhat dubious. In other words, the Clinton Foundation cannot be labeled, as it has been by Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump, as “the most corrupt enterprise in political history,” or “watergate all over again.” In reality, the Foundation has made great strides in a variety of humanitarian causes, including environmental protection, disaster relief, medical access, and childhood health. The foundation has achieved momentous success in its mission in both the United States and the global community, while using only 12% of its revenue for administrative costs.
But for most of Clinton’s critics, these successes are not sufficient. Running a donation-based charity while in public office exudes duplicity and Hillary Clinton’s decision to step down from the Clinton Foundation’s Board seems dangerously like a hollow gesture. If Hillary and Bill Clinton are truly acting on the notion that the Clinton Foundation is a conflict of interest they would have stepped down from the board a long while ago.
The question then, is not why they have decided to distance themselves from the Foundation, but why they have done it now. The answer is simple. Over the course of the election season, the nonprofit has become an object of significant criticism for Hillary Clinton’s many, passionate opposers. Although the Clintons have pursued transparency through every accusation, the Foundation continues to be a neuroma in their already chaotic sensorium. They have therefore freed themselves of its burden under the pretense of avoiding a conflict of interest.
However, this action epitomizes the qualities of Hillary Clinton that Americans find most distasteful. Rather than addressing the Clinton Foundation controversy with poise and honesty, Secretary Clinton has dismissed its concerning aspects for the sake of political success. Her supporters are tired of the inauthenticity with which she responds to real concerns: they are hungry for genuine accountability and sincere action.
By Natasha Herlé