DENVER — Former President Bill Clinton forcefully defended the integrity of his charitable foundation on Wednesday, arguing that attacks on the institution reflect partisan politics as his wife runs for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual Denver meeting, Clinton acknowledged that some donations may seem questionable when viewed through a political lens. But he said they were accepted with the best intentions. “Has anyone proved we’ve done anything objectionable with this money?” he asked. “No.”
The charity was set up after Clinton’s presidency more than a decade ago, and he said no one was thinking that Hillary Rodham Clinton would run for president someday or that “everything we did would be treated with the presumption of wrongdoing.”
The initiative has been criticized as allowing foreign countries and businesses to curry favor with the Clinton family during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
Clinton cited a $500,000 donation from the government of Algeria in 2010 that violated an Obama administration ban on the foundation taking contributions from foreign states. The donation came two days after the Haiti earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people. Clinton said the injured were being anesthetized in the streets with vodka because hospitals were destroyed — and he was accepting help from anyone.
“There are very few countries in the world I would not accept for help to Haiti,” Clinton said.
He added that the foundation has a “strict” non-corruption policy and noted that several Republicans, such as former President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, have spoken at its gatherings.
The former president said he would stop giving paid speeches should his wife win next year’s presidential election. Both Clintons have come under criticism for pulling in millions of dollars in speaking fees since they left the White House.
Clinton said it will be his wife’s call whether he stays at the foundation, if she wins the presidency, or whether he does something else.
“She will have to decide what is my highest and best use, including being around to buck her up in the morning,” he said.