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Bill Clinton defends his foundation's work, finances

Aug. 16, 2013 at 9:35 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Former President Bill Clinton Friday defended the work of the foundation that bears his name, which has come under media scrutiny over its finances.

The New York Times reported Tuesday after interviewing Clinton Foundation executives and former employees that the organization ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years even though revenues were healthy.

The newspaper noted that the 12-year-old foundation, where Clinton has placed a great deal of his energies, has new headquarters in New York City and has been renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton, considered a possible 2016 presidential contender, will soon have her own office space from which she will pursue initiatives on women, children and jobs, and daughter Chelsea has taken on a more prominent leadership role in the organization.

In an open letter posted on the foundation's website, Bill Clinton touted the foundation's successes, including helping 5 million people worldwide gain access to "low cost, high quality AIDS treatment," helping farmers in Malawi improve their production, training Colombians in marketable job skills and fighting obesity among U.S. children.

Clinton wrote that the Times' report that the foundation ran a deficit of $40 million in 2007 and 2008, and $8 million in 2012 is based on tax forms called 990s that "can be misleading as to what is actually going on."

"When someone makes a multi-year commitment to the foundation, we have to report it all in the year it was made," he wrote. "In 2005 and 2006 as a result of multi-year commitments, the foundation reported a surplus of $102,800,000 though we collected nowhere near that.

"In later years, as the money came in to cover our budgets, we were required to report the spending but not the cash inflow. Also, if someone makes a commitment that he or she later has to withdraw we are required to report that as a loss, though we never had the money in the first place and didn't need it to meet our budget.

"In other words, for any foundation with a substantial number of multi-year commitments, the 990s will often indicate that we have more or less money than is actually in our accounts."

Clinton said his foundation, like many others, was hit by the recession and used its reserves to get by. He said the $8 million deficit reported for 2012 "is incorrect and was based on unaudited numbers" from the foundation's annual report.

"When the audited financials are released, they will show a surplus," he said, adding later in the letter, "I am immensely proud of what we've accomplished in the last 12 years, and I want it to continue beyond the time when I can raise the annual budget, and be as personally involved in as many of the initiatives as I have been."

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