Clinton Library Donors Remain Secret
ABC News' Rick Klein and Eloise Harper Report: Former president Bill Clinton said Thursday that he will not reveal the names of donors to the Clinton Presidential Library unless he is required to by law, rebuffing pressure from his wife's rivals for more disclosure.
"We don't believe in one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else," the former president said at a news conference in New York. "The people that have already given me money, I don't think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware -- and there is not -- because a lot of people gave me money with the understanding that they could give anonymously. And if they gave publicly they would be the target for every other politician in America."
At Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said she was "sure [the former president would] be happy to consider" making public the names of donors to the library. But she refused to say whether she had asked him to do so.
"I don't talk about my private conversations with my husband," Clinton said.
She also touted a bill she’s sponsored that would require "sitting presidents" -- though not former presidents -- to reveal any donation to their presidential libraries. "I think that's a good policy," she said.
The former president said that if such a bill becomes law, he will also disclose donors to his library, even though he would not technically be covered by it.
"If she becomes president, I will treat as if we are covered by that, and I will disclose all of the donors to our library and activities if she becomes president," President Clinton said.
At Wednesday’s debate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called on all presidential libraries to disclose their donors. Obama has filed a bill in the Senate that would require disclosure of all contributions to presidential libraries -- including Clinton's.
"I think it's important not only that all this information is disclosed, but I also think that we need to have a situation in which we are disclosing the funneling of large donors," Obama said.
Under current law, presidential libraries are treated like any other charitable organization, and are not required to disclose their donors.
But some have called for that law to change, so the public has access to more information about individuals, companies, and foreign governments that may seek to influence policy through their donations. Recent presidents, including Clinton and Bush, have begun raising money for their libraries while still in office.
The issue of contributions to the Clinton library has gotten fresh attention in recent weeks with the widening scandal surrounding disgraced Clinton fund-raiser Norman Hsu. Hsu has given widely to the Clintons and their causes; he raised $850,000 for Sen. Clinton’s campaign, and gave $30,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Those contributions have been returned. But Clinton aides have declined to say whether Hsu has given any money to the foundation that funds the Clinton Presidential Library, or whether such funds have been returned.
The Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. -- which will eventually include a library, a 30-acre park, an archive, and a school of public service -- has raised $165 million from private sources, according to press accounts. None of those sources must be revealed, under state and federal law.
In 2004, a reporter for the New York Sun offered a peek inside the library's fund-raising machine. The reporter, Josh Gerstein, reviewed a list of donors that was available to the public on a touch-screen computer mounted on a wall inside the library; the computer no longer has that information.
Among the entities who have been reported to have given more than $1 million toward the presidentical center: the governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar; the Saudi royal family; a deputy prime minister of Lebanon; filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Stephen Bing, and David Geffen; Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton; the Anheuser-Busch Foundation; and Vin Gupta, chairman and CEO of infoUSA Inc., a telemarketing firm that has come under scrutiny for its handling of private information.
September 27, 2007 in Vote 2008: Democrats
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