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Bill Clinton defends foundation after Times details financial, management problems

Clinton_081613.jpg

This July 17, 2013 file photo shows former President Bill Clinton speaking in Washington. (AP)

Former President Bill Clinton on Friday issued a lengthy defense of the foundation bearing his name in response to a New York Times article that detailed problems with the organization’s finances and management.

“I am immensely proud of what we've accomplished in the last 12 years,” Clinton said, in an open letter posted on the Clinton Foundation’s website.  

The New York Times on Wednesday published an in-depth report that described internal debates and problems concerning the group's finances and the role of long-time Clinton aides. 

The report said the foundation ran a $40 million deficit in 2007 and 2008. While some blamed the recession, it still ran a deficit of more than $8 million last year, the Times said.

Clinton, though, said the financial documents are “misleading.” He said the foundation is required to report multi-year commitments only in the year they are made. So, Clinton wrote, a $103 million commitment reported in 2005 and 2006 does not show up on future documents, even though it helps cover the foundation’s budgets.

“Like many foundations, we were hit by the economic slowdown in 2007 and the crash in 2008. Thankfully, we had the cash reserves to cover our largest budgets, in our HIV/AIDS, malaria, and health training programs, and we decided to do it because so many lives were at stake,” Clinton said. “For 2012, the reported deficit of $8 million is incorrect, and was based on unaudited numbers included in our 2012 annual report. When the audited financials are released, they will show a surplus.”

The Times also reported that some in the organization have raised concerns about the role of Clinton ally Douglas Band, who was helping run a consulting firm while also working on the Clinton Global Initiative. The firm and the Clintons' world reportedly were deeply intertwined, with Bill Clinton previously working as a paid adviser at the firm, while the firm brought in clients who also donated to the foundation. 

The article also reported on tension regarding the prominent role in the foundation of Ira C. Magaziner. Band reportedly wanted Magaziner fired, but Bill Clinton refused.

Clinton said in his letter that an internal review showed the foundation needed “stronger management staff” working full-time in New York. But he defended Magaziner’s “hard work” at the organization.

Clinton did not address details in the Times report about how his wife Hillary planned to move her staff into offices at the foundation's Manhattan headquarters in the coming weeks – ahead of what many expect will be a presidential bid.

The foundation is being renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.