Campaigning

Clinton, Trump foundations hit with new allegations

Adam Goodman weighs in

 

The Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns are both dealing with new questions about the dealings of the foundations that bear their names -- after one report claimed the GOP nominee used charity money to pay legal fees, while another detailed a new case of alleged overlaps between Bill Clinton's speaking fees and a Clinton Foundation grant.

A Wall Street Journal report Wednesday detailed how The Fragrance Foundation -- a perfume trade group whose industry would later benefit from a Clinton Foundation project in Haiti – had in 2014 given Bill Clinton $260,000 for a speech that lasted less than an hour.

After the speech, the foundation organized and partially funded an effort to get Haitian farmers to plant thousands of lime trees to help both the farmers and the perfume and beverage industries which were suffering from a shortage of limeoil, the Journal reported. 

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation told the Journal there was no connection between the speech and the work in Haiti, saying the project was part of an effort to reverse deforestation in Haiti and help the economy.

However, the Trump campaign blasted the Clintons over the report, saying it showed the foundation is “first and foremost an arm of the Clintons’ political and buck-raking apparatus.”

“Hillary Clinton needs to explain why the Clinton Foundation’s work in earthquake-ravaged Haiti was serving the dual purpose of helping line her pockets,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement.

Yet Trump is facing questions about his own foundation. A report in The Washington Post Tuesday claimed Trump spent $258,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits that involved his businesses – a move that the Post says may have violated laws against “self-dealing” that bar heads of nonprofits from using charity money to benefit themselves.

The Post cites one instance in which one of Trump’s New York golf courses agreed to settle a lawsuit by making a donation to the plaintiff’s chosen charity. A $158,000 donation subsequently was made by the Trump Foundation. The report also cites an instance in which Trump used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to buy a six-foot portrait of himself.

The Clinton campaign said the report showed Trump to be a “fraud” and cited it as proof he needs to release his tax returns.

“Trump’s version of charity is taking money from others to settle his own legal issues and buy at least two pictures of himself, which experts say is a clear violation of laws governing charitable organizations,” spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said in a statement. 

Trump’s campaign shot back at the report, calling it “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter” and attempted to turn the spotlight back onto the Clinton Foundation.

"In typical Washington Post fashion, they’ve gotten their facts wrong. It is the Clinton Foundation that is set up to make sure the Clintons personally enrich themselves by selling access and trading political favors,” the statement said. “The Trump Foundation has no paid board, no management fees, no rent or overhead, and no family members on its payroll.”

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence also stepped in to defend him, saying he was confident the foundation will be able to “demonstrate that they have fully complied with the law.” He told NBC News there are “a number of factual errors in that story.” 

Fox News’ Tamara Gitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.