WASHINGTON // The world opened its wallets for Bill Clinton. Governments, corporations and billionaires with their own interests in US foreign policy gave the former president's charity millions of dollars, according to records he released Thursday. The records were released to lay bare any financial entanglements that could affect Mr Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton, as the next Secretary of State.
Saudi Arabia, Norway and other governments gave at least US$46 million, and donors with ties to India delivered millions more. Corporate donors included the Blackwater security firm, at risk of losing its lucrative government contract to protect US diplomats in Iraq, and Yahoo, involved in disputes over surrendering internet information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of dissidents there.
Other high-profile Clinton donors do not suggest inevitable collisions between US policies and their giving. Celebrities Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Paul Newman, Carly Simon and Chevy Chase all gave. Sports figures included the New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, the former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher and owners of the Indiana Pacers basketball team. The records account for at least $492 million in contributions to the William J Clinton Foundation, a non-profit organisation created by the former US president to finance his library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and charitable efforts in dozens of countries to reduce poverty and treat Aids.
The US President-elect Barack Obama made Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State contingent on revelation by her husband of his foundation's contributors, to deal with questions about potential conflicts of interest. The foundation disclosed the names of its 205,000 donors on its website on Thursday, ending a decade of resistance to identifying them. It released only the names of donors and the range of their contributions. It did not identify each contributor's occupation, employer or nationality or provide any other details.
The foundation said separately that fewer than 3,000 of its donors were foreigners but did not identify which ones were. It was not immediately clear whether the disclosures will raise a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton's nomination to be Secretary of State. The two senior lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senator John F Kerry, a Democrat, and the Republican Richard Lugar, wrote to colleagues on Thursday and said the list's disclosure "is designed to establish greater transparency and predictability with regard to the activities of the Clinton Foundation in the context of Sen Clinton's service as Secretary of State."
Shortly after the documents were released, Mrs Clinton made another appearance at the State Department for meetings with transition aides, officials said. It was the latest of several trips to the building for the former first lady since Mr Obama nominated her. Her first visit was Dec 8, after which she had dinner with the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. After negotiations with Mr Obama's transition team, Clinton promised to reveal the contributors, submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to an ethics review, step away from the day-to-day operation of his annual charitable conference and inform the State Department about new sources of income and speeches.
Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation. AUSAID, the Australian government's overseas aid programme, and COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight Aids, each gave $10 million to $25 million. Norway gave $5 million to $10 million. Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Oman gave $1 million to $5 million each. The government of Jamaica and Italy's Ministry for Environment and Territory gave $50,000 to $100,000 each. The Tenerife Island government donated $25,000 to $50,000.
The Dutch national lottery gave $5 million to $10 million. A full list can be found at Clinton Foundation contributors: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors *AP