PBS anchor Judy Woodruff’s donation to the Clinton Foundation potentially complicates any return to the Old Dominion state gubernatorial debate stage, tying her inextricably with Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe.
While Woodruff has not yet been announced as a moderator—or even that she is in consideration for the job—for an upcoming Virginia Bar Association (VBA) debate between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, she has moderated VBA-hosted debates the last two election cycles in Virginia in 2017 and 2013.
McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor, is now the Democrat nominee for his old job this year, facing Youngkin in November. Virginia term limits governors so they cannot serve two consecutive terms, but after leaving office for a term they can come back as McAuliffe is attempting to do. The two campaigns are in the process of agreeing to debate terms—including the number of debates, what organizations will sponsor them, and who will moderate them—and debates in consideration include ones being offered to be sponsored by the VBA.
Since political organizations are usually creatures of habit, given the fact that Woodruff has moderated debates for the VBA in the last two gubernatorial elections in Virginia there is a good chance—sources throughout Virginia on both sides say this is a point of contention right now—that the organization may turn to Woodruff again this year, even though no such news has been announced yet.
But Woodruff’s history of backing the Clinton Foundation financially may complicate matters here. Politico revealed in 2015 that Woodruff gave $250 to the Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Haiti Relief Fund” in 2010. That fund, which was also supported by former GOP president George W. Bush, was purportedly used for providing aid to Haiti in the wake of the deadly 2010 earthquake.
Clinton-connected corruption in Haiti, however, largely overshadowed anything productive the Clinton Foundation may have intended in the poverty-stricken Caribbean island nation.
Former Haitian Senate president Bernard Sansaricq blistered the Clintons with criticism during the 2016 presidential campaign in comments bolstered by now former President Donald Trump’s campaign, saying they stole billions of dollars from starving and suffering people in Haiti.
“Sadly, when an earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti in 2010, corruption moved in faster than the help so desperately needed. Today, the people of Haiti are still suffering despite the billions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation,” Sansaricq said in a statement amplified by Trump’s 2016 campaign. “The Clintons exploited this terrible disaster to steal billions of dollars from the sick and starving people of Haiti. The world trusted the Clintons to help the Haitian people during their most desperate time of need and they were deceived. The Clintons and their friends are richer today while millions still live in tents. The world deserves to know where the money went and why help was never sent.”
Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democrat presidential nominee, was the U.S. Secretary of State in 2010 when the deadly earthquake struck Haiti—handling disbursement of relief funds to the island. The Clintons’ mishandling of the Haiti situation was a huge part of the 2016 election discussion. Her brother Tony Rodham, meanwhile, received a lucrative “gold exploitation permit” from the Haitian government—the first in over 50 years and the second ever issued—in 2012, revelations first made public in Government Accountability Institute president and Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer’s bombshell 2015 book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
A 2004 Clinton Foundation board report shows that McAuliffe was that year a board member of the organization that Woodruff would later donate to, another ethical complication for the PBS host should she proceed with any efforts to moderate a Virginia gubernatorial debate this year. McAuliffe was also a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and his role there CNN reported in 2016 was the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI. The ties between the Clinton Foundation and McAuliffe are so close that the Washington Post published a 2015 piece detailing how very close they really are—with hundreds of overlapping donors.
“More than 175 contributors to the Clinton Foundation and to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential campaign have dug deep into their wallets for McAuliffe (D), often giving prolifically despite little or no connection to Virginia,” the Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella wrote in 2015.
Woodruff’s $250 donation to the Clinton Foundation may seem small, but, in 2015, even the then-ombudsman for PBS Michael Getler—who has since passed away—publicly criticized Woodruff for the donation, saying it was a “mistake.” Getler said that if Woodruff wanted to help the Haiti relief efforts, there were plenty of legitimate avenues separate from the Clinton Foundation to provide support.
“Woodruff has had a distinguished, 45-year journalistic career, holding down important positions with CBS, NBC, CNN and PBS,” Getler wrote. “She has always struck me as straight and professional in her approach to the news and, having watched her now for several years, I couldn’t tell you how she’d vote. But there are lots of ways to contribute to Haitian earthquake relief. So the choice of the Clinton Foundation, even in a small amount and with the best of intentions, was a mistake in my book.”
The VBA’s executive director R. Yvonne Cockram issued a statement to Breitbart News defending Woodruff moderating VBA-sponsored debates in the commonwealth. “The Virginia Bar Association has hosted statewide debates in Virginia for over 30 years, many moderated by Judy Woodruff,” Cockram said in a statement. “Past participants in VBA debates moderated by Woodruff include: 2018: Tim Kaine & Corey Stewart; 2017: Ed Gillespie & Ralph Northam; 2014: Ed Gillespie & Mark Warner; and, 2013: Terry McAuliffe, & Ken Cuccinelli. The VBA is not aware of any comments by past participants that the VBA debate or its moderators have been anything but fair and impartial.”
A PBS spokesman, meanwhile, did not comment on the possibility of Woodruff moderating a debate but defended Woodruff’s donation—contradicting the publication’s ombudsman—by claiming former GOP president George W. Bush was also backing the Haiti relief effort.
“This was in response to a bipartisan call by former presidents Clinton and George W. Bush in 2010 for relief for Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010,” PBS NewsHour spokesman Nick Massella told Breitbart News, also sharing a link to a Wikipedia page detailing Clinton and Bush efforts to provide relief in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Massella did not answer questions regarding the possibility of Woodruff moderating a debate this year in Virginia’s governor’s race, including whether she would if she is offered the role and accepts it disclose at the outset of the debate to viewers her clear financial conflicts of interest and her ties to the Clinton Foundation.