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New WikiLeaks Emails Return Attention To Clinton Foundation Controversy


A memo by a former aide to Bill Clinton shows substantial overlap between fundraising efforts at the Clinton Foundation and the personal income of the former president. That memo was released yesterday by WikiLeaks. It was written in 2011 by a man named Douglas Band, and it outlines tens of millions of dollars that were paid to Bill Clinton in speaking and other fees by companies that also donated to the Clinton Foundation. Band referred to the enterprise as Bill Clinton, Inc.

For more on this, we are joined by James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, who wrote about the memo. Hi there.

JAMES GRIMALDI: Hi. How are you?

MCEVERS: Good. So tell us about Douglas Band. Who is he, and what was his role at the Clinton Foundation?

GRIMALDI: Doug Band worked with Bill Clinton going back to the White House. And when Mr. Clinton left the White House, Doug helped him set up the Clinton Global Initiative and work on the Clinton Foundation. And he was also one of the biggest fundraisers for Mr. Clinton during that period.

MCEVERS: And this memo that Doug Band wrote in 2011, tell us about it.

GRIMALDI: Well, the memo is responding to charges by Chelsea Clinton that he'd been hustling business for his consulting firm Teneo Holdings at the Clinton Global Initiative. And he wanted to say that no, that was not the case. He was doing the opposite. He was asking his clients to make contributions to the Clinton Foundation. And not only was he raising money from these corporations for the Clinton Foundation, but he was also arranging for private speechmaking and appearances and arrangements with these companies where Mr. Clinton could become a paid consultant. So what you ended up having was solicitation of some of the very people and corporations and foundations that were also donors to the Clinton Foundation.

MCEVERS: And how much money are we talking about in total that Bill Clinton received as personal income?

GRIMALDI: At the time the memo was written in 2011, Mr. Band and a colleague said that they'd helped him arrange, quote, "more than $50 million in for-profit activity" and, quote, "$66 million in future contracts."

MCEVERS: We should say that the campaign of Hillary Clinton has not verified the authenticity of emails like this. And we should also say that this memo makes no mention of Hillary Clinton by name. Is that right?

GRIMALDI: That's correct. But it refers to Mrs. Clinton when it talks about in-kind contributions - i.e. gifts - that were for the family, including travel, vacations and items that may have ended up in their homes.

MCEVERS: What should people make of this memo?

GRIMALDI: I think it shows the activities of the Clinton Foundation, which did a lot of good works around the world, often were paired up with money that went into Bill Clinton's pocket. In the last two years, I've written about the Clinton Foundation, and I found multiple instances where a corporation and others gave to the foundation and also hired Bill or Hillary Clinton to give speeches. So I think that raises questions about where the lines were drawn, if there were any lines. And it raises questions, I think, even going into the future to the extent that the Clinton Foundation may continue to exist - and they say it will - to be run by Chelsea, whether there are policies in place to maybe put some limits on this kind of fundraising.

MCEVERS: James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, thank you very much.

GRIMALDI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.