Charles Ortel: ‘Clinton Robin Hood in Reverse Must Be Punished’
Despite the polls in the run up to November 8, 2016, and the post-election shenanigans that continue to this day, the United States has a new President, and it is not Hillary Clinton. There are many reasons for this, and Charles Ortel’s dogged, two-year investigation of the Clintons’ predatory humanitarianism is a major one. He is not yet done. It is almost universally unacceptable to prey on the weak of one’s own species. There are laws and religious precepts against this in every human culture. In fact, as humans, we find it so heinous to prey on the helpless that, contrary to all biological rules, we prey on the strong, and not the sick, young, and injured, even when we hunt other species. The Clintons and their associates are not above the law, and Ortel, with his credentials as a graduate of the Harvard Business School, decades of Wall Street experience, and accurate assessment in 2008 of General Electric stock as being overvalued, is taking his investigation to the next level. I caught up with him last week for the following interview.
DC: Charles, we now know that former President Barack Obama did not pardon former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
CO: The pardons would have been for the Clinton family and others for federal offenses arising from the illegal operation of, and solicitation for, numerous so-called charities. The apparent failure to pardon removes a major excuse that US state, federal, and foreign government authorities may have had for failing to investigate, expose, prosecute, and win criminal convictions in what I believe to be the largest charity fraud ever attempted.
It will take time to replace federal government employees inside the Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, and Federal Trade Commission, who likely were complicit in a scheme to impede and obstruct investigations into this ongoing charity-fraud conspiracy. Given time, I certainly hope the Trump administration will increase the resources for the rumored investigations by the FBI and the IRS, which should address widespread illegal solicitation and operations in virtually every US state and numerous foreign countries. I also hope that the Trump administration will work closely with foreign-government donors who either were complicit in these charity frauds, or who should now be working hard to recover funds advanced to Clinton charities under false pretenses.
DC: Now that the Clinton Global Initiative has shut down its operations, will there be access to its documents? Are the people who were involved with CGI still responsible to show to the IRS and other government agencies that its affairs are in order?
CO: Unlike investigations into Ponzi schemes and other frauds involving for-profit entities, investigators wield enormous leverage when they finally decide to look into frauds by not-for-profit entities. Review of New York and other state laws, IRS regulations and practices, and laws in relevant countries suggest that the executives, directors, and their professional advisors will bear the burden of proving that they organized and then operated the various Clinton charities lawfully at all times. Losing or obscuring records will hurt those who are potentially liable, and I would note that criminal penalties for organizing and operating charity frauds, particularly disaster-relief charity frauds, are onerous.
DC: Many people confuse the Clinton Global Initiative, which recently closed its doors, with the Clinton Foundation. Is the CGI a legal entity, and how does it relate to the Clinton Foundation?
CO: The CGI began to operate in New York by September 2005, illegally, as a concept. Under US law, a validly organized charity cannot be a formless association; instead it must be a lawfully constituted entity. In most cases, the trustees or directors of a lawfully organized charity choose to establish a nonprofit corporation under US state laws; after this, they get federal tax exemption on the basis of a detailed application that must be filled out truthfully and accurately, and that states their specific purposes, which are then authorized by the IRS. There’s no record anywhere that the Clinton Foundation validly changed its authorized purposes. Originally, in January 1998, these were to erect a presidential archive, establish a research facility in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raise a capital endowment. So, starting with the first CGI Annual Meeting in Manhattan, the Clinton Foundation became engaged in substantial activities that were not authorized, or even charitable. Disclosures in the IRS filings for the Clinton Foundation show that CGI activities were substantial in every year from 2005 through 2009.
On September 4, 2009, several weeks before the 2009 CGI Annual Meeting in Manhattan, a new Arkansas nonprofit corporation called “Clinton Global Initiative, Inc.” was established. It’s not clear yet from the filings how sums were divided between January 1, 2009 through September 3, 2009; and September 4, 2009 through 31 December 31, 2009. Though a CGI meeting was held in 2009 while the old initiative and the new legal entity both, in theory, existed, an application for federal tax exemption for the new entity was not submitted until August 2010. This application falsely claims that the new entity wasn’t a legal successor to any previous activity, when abundant evidence in the public domain shows otherwise.
The New CGI held meetings in 2010, 2011, and 2012. So far, the Shared Services Agreement under which the parent Clinton Foundation operated New CGI hasn’t been made public. So we don’t yet know the financial ramifications of these arrangements. According to documents in the public domain, the Clinton Foundation controlled New CGI. So, in these three years, New CGI provided Annual Reports to the IRS, but its financial results were also consolidated into the Clinton Foundation’s financial and operating reports.
The Clinton Foundation elected, in theory, to merge New CGI back into the Clinton Foundation in 2013. To do so validly under Arkansas and other laws, each charity must be validly organized and operated from inception through the merger date. I don’t believe close analysis supports such a conclusion. Until recently, the Clinton Foundation continued to solicit funds for CGI and to hold various meetings whose charitable purpose is far from clear.
Laureate Education Inc.
I am certain that patient, empowered review of the many thousand CGI Commitments to Action will uncover numerous instances where CGI was operated for substantial private gain. A single example that I feel deserves focus is Laureate Education, Inc. Beginning in 2007/8, the Clinton Foundation, through its CGI, supposedly formed a joint venture with Laureate, which was a profit seeking entity at that time. Some disclosures concerning 2010 through 2012 show that the program service expenses of this supposed joint venture, CGI University, averaged up to several million dollars per year.
Bill Clinton began to receive payments personally for speeches from entities that either lent money to Laureate, or invested risk capital in Laureate, starting earlier than 2010. Between 2010 and 2015, he and his wife received more than $17 million from Laureate for his part-time service as a so-called Honorary Chancellor. These payments were substantial, but they remain undisclosed on filings for the parent Clinton Foundation, CGI, and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative.
DC: How does the HIV-AIDS initiative relate to the Clinton Foundation or CGI?
CO: The HIV-AIDS initiative is the Clinton Foundation’s largest operation. Numerous records, and public statements by Bill Clinton, Ira Magaziner, and others show clearly that the efforts supposedly “fighting HIV/AIDS internationally” were never organized or operated lawfully at any time.
Bill Clinton wrote in his book, Giving, published around September 2007, that the health initiatives started around July 2002. A more recent book by Joe Conason, Man of the World, well worth reading by the way, suggests these efforts were born in early 2002. Though substantial sums may have been raised by Bill Clinton from the New York office of the Clinton Foundation starting in 2002, none of the financial consequences for these activities appears in Annual Reports filed with the IRS for 2002 and 2003. By March 24, 2004, a new entity had been created called Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, Inc., or CHAI, yet the application for federal tax-exemption and Annual Reports for this entity for 2004 and 2005 are omitted from the Clinton Foundation website.
As I noted earlier for CGI, for CHAI a questionable decision was also taken to merge this HIV/AIDS entity back into the Clinton Foundation by December 31, 2005. Yet the Clinton Foundation was clearly not authorized to control this new activity. There is no evidence in the public domain that it received tax-exemption from the IRS, Arkansas, or any other government authority. Nevertheless, from 2006 through 2009, the Clinton Foundation falsely held out to contributors, potential donors, and the general public that it was validly authorized to “fight HIV/AIDS internationally.” It raised hundreds of millions of dollars. So far, there has never been a required comprehensive accounting to evaluate what sums actually were sent and how these were spent around the world.
DC: Some of your discoveries about CHAI have set off alarm bells for you as a financial investigator.
CO: Given the foregoing history from early 2002 through 2009, and the fact that CHAI was such a large percentage of Clinton Foundation declared program-service expenses from 2004 through 2009, I found it quite surprising that a new application was tendered to the IRS at the end of December 2009 that claimed, falsely, that a new entity called Clinton Health Access Initiative was not a successor to any previous activity. This is clearly a bold-faced, but perhaps lawyerly lie. In sum and in substance, as numerous Clinton-issued documents show, the new entity succeeded to all the rights and obligations of the prior operation.
Amounts, addresses, and aims?
Beyond these grave legal problems, I was surprised to see numerous instances where donors like Australia, Ireland, Norway, UNITAID, Gates Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation/US and UK, and Elton John AIDS Foundation/US and UK, among many others, declared donations to various Clinton entities that did not match as to amount, and in some cases as to address.
I question whether any of these activities are charitable, and wonder whether they may more properly be viewed as business-development activities for manufacturers of generic HIV/AIDS drugs and HIV test kits. In many places, Bill Clinton himself seems to articulate a profit motive to justify the use of generic HIV/AIDS medicines. See his book and see Elton John’s book, Love is the Cure. Put simply, Clinton seems to have argued that, by setting prices too high, drug companies were losing opportunities to have captive patients over the long periods when they would need regular HIV/AIDS medication.
Details, details, details
In the disclosures put out so far by Clinton entities, there is no granularity concerning its largest operation, HIV/AIDS, from 2004 onwards. Normally, one would expect to see geographic breakdowns for activity, local currency results, translation rates to US dollars, and much more specific information concerning pharmaceuticals sold to and then distributed by the Clinton Foundation. Instead, from 2005 onwards, the Clinton Foundation discloses large blanket expenses for “pharmaceuticals” with no detail at all. So, the public cannot understand whether the Clinton Foundation offered and gave the pharmaceuticals away at a loss, or whether Clinton entities and allies pocketed the difference, which seems substantial, between what the donors sent towards the Clinton Foundation to fight HIV/AIDS internationally and what Clinton Foundation entities actually spent.
DC: In Haiti, HIV-AIDS research and treatment is largely done by an organization called GHESKIO. It is an odd research organization that is connected to Paul Farmer; it is very well funded and almost exclusively so by USAID. In your work, did you find a connection to GHESKIO, Paul Farmer, or both?
CO: I have not looked deeply into GHESKIO yet, but I shall. I do find it significant that USAID has supported so many counterparties associated with the Clinton Foundation. It seems to me that real audits need to be performed of monies that our government sends out around the world, and to multi-lateral organizations like UNITAID, Global Fund and the United Nations complex. Only then can taxpayers understand how those who are associated with charities might be profiting from receipt of government grants.
DC: In your view, Charles, did the HIV-AIDS initiative help 9 million people with lower-cost generic HIV-AIDS drugs, as Hillary Clinton has claimed?
CO: The evidence I have seen suggests that this claim is absurd. I’ve seen higher amounts than 9 millions claimed. Clinton Foundation filings do not support this. If the various entities have more evidence, let them share it with the public.
Efforts to bring down the price of HIV/AIDS medicines through the use of generic medicines were initially opposed by the Clinton Administration in its second term! Independently of the Clintons, several manufacturers of generic HIV/AIDS drugs were well advanced in lowering costs by 2003 when Bill Clinton and Ira Magaziner stepped up their efforts. That year, Bill Clinton and Ira Magaziner were not officers or directors of the Clinton Foundation. So it’s tough to see the argument bearing up that they deserve more than partial credit for bringing down the cost of HIV/AIDS medication.
From 2004 forward, I believe that the Clinton Foundation and its HIV/AIDS Initiative were illegally organized and operated. It’s hard to imagine how illegal charities deserve credit for anything.
Let’s be charitable and assume that the HIV/AIDS activities might have gained special dispensation, somehow, to operate outside applicable laws, which is not actually possible, does the 9 million number make any sense? Remember: once you start using HIV/AIDS drugs, until a cure is found, you are consigned to using these drugs for the rest of your life. By 2016, the Clinton Foundation was 13 or 14 years into a process of creating access to some patients to treat HIV/AIDS. The sums claimed on Clinton Foundation filings for “pharmaceuticals” are a tiny fraction of the annual cost of treating 9 million HIV/AIDS patients, and a miniscule portion of the cumulative cost of treating however many patients may have been treated since 2002.
DC: You and others have worked incessantly for two years to expose the Clintons’ financial dealings. Thanks partly to this work, the US has a new administration. What’s the probability that we’ll see the Clintons in court to answer for their activities in the Clinton Foundation, CGI, and other initiatives?
Around the world, and especially in rich donor countries, we’ve become complacent about charity, perhaps thinking that charities normally do lots more good than harm, so why should they be closely scrutinized. The Clinton Foundation and its vast network of sham charities and donors proves why the general public and numerous governments must finally get serious about regulating charities, and especially those that operate internationally.
It is a sad truth, and perhaps an unalterable one, that appeals for donations involving children, disasters and disease will always uncork streams of incoming donations, particularly so now that the internet makes it so easy to spread cash all over the world. It is also a sad truth that politicians need money to fund campaigns and lifestyles, and that the stock and volume of illegally obtained money needs a ready laundry. So, in too many ways, charities operated with loose or even no controls by celebrities are perfect instruments to corrupt politicians, cement political power, and transfer illegally generated sums.
An element in most of us cheers on Robin Hood and his band of thieves, because they stole from the rich to give to the poor. But why do so many still support the Clinton family following almost two decades spent, evidently, stealing from the poor to reward themselves and their rich cronies and political supporters? From what I can tell, and from what determined readers and government authorities can discover, the network of Clinton tax-exempt entities practices charity in name only. It is false philanthropy, about which examples must be made, with stiff punishments and financial restitution. The Clinton case must not stand unexposed or unpunished. It is too large, it has operated for too long, and it taints as well as harms too many lives. Let there be a reckoning, not simply here in the United States but let donor nations and recipient nations understand what seems to have happened here. We must force the Clinton entities through their directors, foundation donors, executives, and professional advisors to account for all the money sent towards these charities and all the private gains that have been created around the world in the guise of charity.
Editor’s Notes: Dady Chery is the author of We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation. Photographs one, two, eight and ten from the United Nations archive; photographs three, four, five and six from US Department of State archive;photographs nine and eleven from The World Bank archive; and photographs thirteen and fourteen from Karl-Ludwig Poggeman‘s archive.