5 Burning Questions About Hillary Clinton’s University Paydays and the Clinton Foundation

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Last week Hillary Clinton was under fire for taking around $1.8 million in speaking fees from colleges – many of which were increasing tuition on students – since leaving the State Department.  Over the holiday weekend Clinton tried to clean-up the PR mess by saying that those fees had been donated to a charity – her own, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Given the foundations track record of lavish spending this raises some questions about just how the Clinton Foundation charity cash has been spent since Hillary left the White House.

1. Is the Foundation paying for Clinton’s political staff or being used as a holding ground for future Clinton Presidential staff? 

In 2013, The New York Times reported that “the foundation could serve as a base…to build up a stable of trusted staff members who could form the core of a political campaign.” Among those on the payroll at the time were a handful of Clinton 2008 presidential campaign staff including Huma Abedin and Dennis Cheng, the finance director of her 08 campaign leading what some Clinton donors describe as a “dry run” for the 2016 campaign at the Foundation. 

Its hard to argue that lavish speaking fees are going to a charity when that charity is paying for presidential campaign prep.

2. Do the college speaking fees help underwrite the CGI meetings? 

According to a Clinton Foundation press release in 2013, CGI was reincorporated into the Clinton Foundation when Secretary Clinton left the State Department. That adds substantial overhead cost to the foundation that can’t be described as “charitable.”

For example: In 2012 the total CGI budget was $28 million. Of that, $25 million was spent on their annual meetings. According to the 990 CGI spent over $1 million of that on “production” vendors including stage crews and technical production.

Not your typical charity expenditures.

3. Is the Foundation still footing the bill for the Clintons ostentatious travel? 

A 2013 report by the New York Post found that the Clinton Foundation spent $60 million on travel from 2003-2012. When combined with their other initiatives that number ballooned past $85 million.

If the universities fees are being used so that the Clintons can fly around on private jets and stay in luxurious presidential suites, is that really a charitable contribution?

4. What about travel for celebrities? 

Clinton Foundation events are often replete with celebrity star power. In one instance, Natalie Portman was given a first class ticket for her and her Yorkie to an event in Austin.

I’m sure the students paying a higher tuition next Spring would be happy to hear that the university cash went to pay for celebrity dog travel.

5. Is the Clinton Foundation still paying Teneo a 7 figure consulting fee? 

Founded by former top Clinton aides, Teneo has been a preferred consulting firm for the Clintons. Previous reports indicated that they made $250k per month from the Clinton Foundation, which is approximately what Hillary was making from each college speech.

This just scratches the surface of what we don’t know about the Clinton Foundation finances. As POLITICO reporter Ben White noted, until we do saying that she donated speaking fees to charity isn’t much of an answer.