Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton dodged a question posed by Fox News’s Chris Wallace about reports of possible “pay-to-play” arrangements between Clinton Foundation donors and the Department of State.
“During her 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, you promise to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with your dealing with the Clinton foundation while we were secretary of state,” Wallace said to Clinton during Wednesday night’s presidential debate.
“But emails show that donors got special access to you. Those seeking grants for Haiti relief were considered separately from non-donors and some of those donors got contract government, contracts, taxpayer money. Can you really say that you capture pledge to the Senate committee and why isn’t what happened and what went on between you and the Clinton Foundation, why isn’t it what Mr. Trump calls pay-to-play?” Wallace asked.
Clinton was quick to pivot and avoid answering the question, which was based on recent reports suggesting Clinton family friends were given special treatment by government officials.
“Well, everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values,” Clinton said.
“The State Department has said that I think that it’s been proven, but I am happy, in fact I’m thrilled, to talk about the Clinton Foundation because it is a world renowned charity and I am so proud of the work that it does,” she said.
“You know I could talk for the rest of the debate,” she added. “I know I don’t have the time to do that. but just briefly the Clinton Foundation made a possible for 11 million people around the world with HIV-AIDS to afford treatment, and that’s about half of all the people in the world for getting treatment. In partnership with the American Health Association, we have made environments and schools healthier.”
The Clinton Foundation has come under fire in recent years for taking money from foreign donors while Clinton served as secretary of state in the Obama administration. Recent news reports suggest foundation donors were also given special consideration for State Department programs.
ABC News recently reported “a series of candid email exchanges with top Clinton Foundation officials during the hours after the massive 2010 Haiti earthquake” a senior Clinton aide at the Department of State “repeatedly gave special attention to those identified by the abbreviations ‘FOB’ (friends of Bill Clinton) or ‘WJC VIPs’ (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).”
“Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,” Caitlin Klevorick, who was a senior State Department official, wrote in an email to government employees. “Most I can probably ID but not all.”
Emails released by WikiLeaks from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s Gmail account show the Clinton Foundation hired an outside firm to conduct a “governance review” in 2010 that found many donors had “an expectation of a quid pro quo benefits in return for gifts.”