The Clinton Foundation has said it accepted a $1 million gift from the Qatari government without notifying the State Department that it had done so, an apparent violation of an ethics agreement Hillary Clinton signed when she became Secretary of State in 2009.
Under the terms of the agreement, Clinton promised the foundation would notify the State Department’s ethics official if a new foreign government wished to donate or if a current foreign donor wished to “increase materially” its contributions.
Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark former President Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday. The following April, Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director, emailed several of his colleagues to say that the Qataris wanted to meet Bill Clinton “‘for five minutes’ in NYC to present [the] check.” Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state until Feb. 1, 2013.
When contacted by Reuters, which first reported on the deal’s ethical ramifications, Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra said the $1 million gift did not constitute a “material increase” in the Middle Eastern nation’s contributions.
Reuters, citing the foundation’s own website, reported that Qatar’s own government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years.
The State Department told the news agency it had no record of the Qatar donation and said it was up to the foundation to submit it for review.
The number of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation has opened the Democratic nominee up to conflict-of-interest accusations and raises the possibility that donors gave money with the expectation of receiving political favors in return.
Republican nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly called for Clinton to return donations from countries like Qatar, which has a questionable human rights record.
Last year, the Foundation admitted that no complete list of donors to its health program, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, had been published since 2010, despite promises from Clinton two years earlier that such a list would be produced annually.
The email from Desai was part of a trove of hacked messages from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account that were published by Wikileaks last month.