By Stephanie Keith/Getty.
Of the two New Yorkers running for president, only Donald Trump’s family foundation is being investigated by the state attorney general for potential illegal activity. But it is the Clinton Foundation that is beginning to fall apart amid the nonstop coverage of both charities in the press. While Bill Clinton prepares for what is expected to be an impassioned defense of their philanthropic efforts, which have been at the center of accusations that the Clintons used their foundation to sell access while Hillary Clinton led the State Department, Politico reports that the Clinton Global Initiative is preparing to lay off dozens of staffers.
The staff shake-up is not entirely unexpected. After months of weathering mostly partisan attacks, Bill announced in August a series of imminent changes in leadership to the Clinton Foundation should Hillary make it to the White House, including plans to shutter C.G.I., the conference arm of the charity. The decision to sunset the the high-profile, big-money initiative came as no surprise—but it has reportedly fomented controversy within the Clinton Foundation itself.
Despite assertions that full-time C.G.I. employees will retain their positions and benefits through the end of the year, a number of staffers are either looking for or have already accepted new positions elsewhere, Politico reports. How many people have left, however, is unknown—as are the exact numbers of jobs that will be cut at the end of the year. “We informed CGI staff of this transition more than four months before the end of the year, and have provided information about CGI-related roles that will continue,” a spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation told Politico. But many current and former staffers are reportedly frustrated with how the transition has been handled. “It was poorly managed, treated too glibly, patronizingly, completely lacking empathy at the fact that so many young people were going to be laid off,” a former C.G.I. official told Politico.
C.G.I. will retain some employees to work on ongoing projects with commitments that extend beyond the end of the year. “Staff will be performing a number of roles, including continuing to provide advice with respect to commitment development and commitment improvement” and “continuing to facilitate introductions and partnerships between members,” a spokesperson told Politico. Some Clinton Foundation allies, however, worry that these ongoing relationships could leave the charity open to criticism. One former official referred to the decision to keep some staffers on as a “bad idea” and told Politico, “I really think they should make a clean break, and apparently so do most staff.”
The final C.G.I. conference, which began on Tuesday, has already prompted fresh outcry from critics and has left Clinton allies concerned. “The foundation has been a negative this year, with concerns about donors seeking influence and access—why shine light on it right before the debate?” a member of the Democratic National Committee told Politico. And even as Trump faces accusations that his namesake charity participated in illegal acts of “self-dealing,” the G.O.P. nominee’s campaign has kept its rebukes of the allegations focused on the Clinton Foundation. On Wednesday, following the release of a new Washington Post report that claimed Trump allegedly spent more than a quarter-million dollars of his namesake foundation’s money to settle lawsuits, a statement from the Trump campaign used the opportunity to turn the tables on Clinton. “In typical Washington Post fashion, they’ve gotten their facts wrong. It is the Clinton Foundation that is set up to make sure the Clintons personally enrich themselves by selling access and trading political favors,” spokesperson Jason Miller wrote, though he did not refute any of the investigation’s findings. “The Post’s reporting is peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter who is clearly intent on distracting attention away from the corrupt Clinton Foundation, a vehicle for the Clintons to peddle influence at the expense of the American people.”