Three months after Hillary Clinton’s stunning election loss to Donald Trump, her family foundation is facing vexing questions about its ability to exist.
“The foundation is still grappling with its place in the era of President Trump,” the New York Times reports. “It faces some daunting challenges: a drop in fund-raising during the campaign; uncertainty about the scale of the former president’s ambitions; and questions about leadership, including how long its president, Donna E. Shalala, will stay, and whether Mrs. Clinton might rejoin the charity.”
Shalala didn’t shy away from the foundation’s fledgling philanthropic status.
“Last year was a tough year,” she told the Times, “because people were beating on us with nonsense,” referencing the media reports of corruption between Clinton Foundation donors, the six-figure speeches given by Bill Clinton, and the corresponding actions approved by the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Indeed, mere weeks after Hillary Clinton lost the election, financial disclosure forms revealed that the Clinton Foundation’s donations had plummeted by 37 percent. Reports earlier this month about the foundation laying off 20-something staffers has ballooned to “about 100,” the Times reports.
Much of the Clinton Foundation’s shady dealings around the world while Hillary Clinton was head of the State Department was brought to light through the investigative work of Breitbart News and its Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer’s bestselling book Clinton Cash.
What’s more, the Times reports, “Foundation officials confirmed on Thursday that two major programs, including one in Haiti, would transfer out of the foundation.”
And according to Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, the investigation into the Clinton Foundation “continues.”
Nevertheless, Shalala, who served as secretary of health and human services under President Clinton, says the Clinton global charity’s best days are ahead.
“At the end of the day, I think this is going to be as it always was: a creative, dynamic foundation that helps to improve the lives of millions,” she said.
Still, experts don’t share the same optimistic view about the Clinton Foundation’s future as its leadership.
“The big issue they are going to face is to what degree can they raise money now that the Clintons seem to be out of national leadership positions,” said Leslie Lenkowsky, a philanthropy expert at Indiana University. “They have lost a little bit of their luster.”
The organization’s namesake, Bill Clinton, is now 70-years-old and has been out of government for over 15 years. The foundation’s fundraising, which Mr. Clinton spearheaded since 2001, has nosedived in recent years. And, according to Ms. Shalala, the 2016 fundraising numbers are lower than the year before, which were lower than the year before that.
Ms. Shalala, however, expresses faith in the former president’s ability to still raise large donations. “He’s got a lot of friends,” Ms. Shalala said.
Asked if Hillary Clinton is ready take on a more concerted leadership role in her family’s foundation, Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, told the Times “We are not there yet even remotely now.”
Daniel F. Runde, a former director of the Office of Global Development Alliances at the United States Agency for International Development described the Clinton Foundation’s viability bluntly: “It’s a damaged brand, but there remains an international demand for them.”
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson