Philanthropy Notes, July 2016: Clinton Foundation, Barack Obama Foundation, and Bias at Facebook
Philanthropy Notes is part of Foundation Watch. For the full PDF, click here.
U.S. Department of Justice employees have given so much money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign that critics doubt the agency can handle her private email server case fairly. Clinton has accepted $73,437 in campaign contributions from DoJ employees, up from $15,930 during her 2008 presidential run, the Washington Free Beacon reports. In the current election cycle, Clinton rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has received $8,900 in donations from DoJ employees. Donald Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee, took in a meager $381 from DoJ employees. Citizens United president David Bossie said Attorney General Loretta Lynch should step back and appoint a special counsel to handle Clinton’s case. “How can Democrat political appointees fairly investigate someone who is about to become their nominee for president? … This investigation needs to be conducted free of political influence once and for all.”
Meanwhile, Trump has made a curious choice in Steven Mnuchin as finance chairman of his campaign. Mnuchin used to work for the pre-eminent funder of the Left, anti-American billionaire George Soros. Mnuchin was an investment banker or something similar for hedge fund Soros Fund Management LLC. Philanthropy reporter Rick Cohen noted in 2014 that Mnuchin is a philanthropist “with a family foundation (the Steven and Heather Mnuchin Foundation), a trustee of other foundations, and with service as a board member at the Los Angeles Police Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art.”
Some federal lawmakers say forcing super-wealthy elite colleges like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to cover the tuition of their stu-dents may be a good counterweight to outrageous, increasingly large tuition fees, according to the Wall Street Journal. “College costs have outpaced health-care inflation, and at the same time, there’s this benefit for endowments,” said watchdog Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), referring to the school’s untaxed endowments. Lawmakers have asked 56 private colleges whose endowments exceed $1 billion to provide details of their holdings and to explain how they reward big donors with naming rights.
Six donors and foundations donated $1.84 million in 2015 to the Barack Obama Foundation, which will build Obama’s presidential center on Chicago’s South Side, reports the Chicago Tribune. The Gill Foundation, which specializes in gay rights issues, was the largest donor at $347,000, followed by the Sacks Family Foundation at $333,334. Two New York couples, Lise Strickler and Mark Gallogly and Marilyn and Jim Simons, each donated $330,000. New Yorkers David and Beth Shaw donated $250,000. Maryland-based ImpactAssets also gave $250,000.
Around 2010 the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation unlawfully gave $2 million to Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., a power company partly owned by Clinton family friend Julie Tauber McMahon, the Wall Street Journal reports. Tax-exempt charities like the foundation are supposed to act in the public interest, not to advance private commercial interests. Bill Clinton also endorsed the company to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant. The grant came from Chu’s agency, which operated a program aimed at encouraging innovative approaches to weatherizing low-income people’s homes.
According to a former journalist who worked at Facebook, the social media giant’s so-called news curators “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section,” Gizmodo reports. The individual said employees “prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.” It’s the kind of progressive ideology we’ve come to expect from Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook and denies that his company practices such censorship (see Foundation Watch, February 2016).
Goldman Sachs Watch
As Goldman Sachs Group Inc. continues to take a financial pounding, the international investment bank is unloading additional employees from its sales and trading division, the WSJ reports. “In its core trading business, Goldman has trimmed staff in recent years as more activity becomes electronic and some of the most potentially profitable trades have been curtailed by new capital rules and other regulations that discourage risk taking.” The company is trying to diversify its business offerings so it is less reliant on trading, its longtime cash cow.