April 29, 2015

Canadian Tax Experts Say Clintons Are Lying About Not Disclosing Donors

Bloomberg reported this morning that “[t]here are in fact 1,100 undisclosed donors to the Clinton Foundation … most of them non-U.S. residents who donated to [the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership] CGEP.”

The Clintons agreed to disclose their donors when Hillary Clinton became President Obama’s Secretary of State. That didn’t happen, and now the Clinton Foundation and Frank Giustra, a named partner of CGEP—a Clinton Foundation affiliate—is claiming that’s because Canadian law forbids disclosure. Giustra is a Canadian citizen and CGEP is based in Canada.

That disclosure claim has run into, well, the facts, as nearly every Canadian expert asked for comment shot down that defense as false.

Canadian tax and privacy law experts were dubious of this claim. Len Farber, former director of tax policy at Canada’s Department of Finance, said he wasn’t aware of any tax laws that would prevent the charity from releasing its donors’ names. “There’s nothing that would preclude them from releasing the names of donors,” he said. “It’s entirely up to them.”

Mark Blumberg, a charity lawyer at Blumberg Segal in Toronto, added that the legislation “does not generally apply to a registered charity unless a charity is conducting commercial activities… such as selling the list to third parties.”

CGEP might have a stronger claim if it promised anonymity to donors, says David Fraser, a partner at McInnes Cooper in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who runs a blog on Canadian privacy law. He’s more skeptical of the argument that a charity has a fiduciary duty to donors. “They might have a fiduciary duty to the people they’re collecting money to help,” he said, “but for the donors that doesn’t seem to have the ring of truth.”

Rather, it seems the Clintons and Giustra just don’t want to reveal these donors—the second Clinton Foundation arm that has refused to disclose. The Washington Post reports CGEP sends “much of its money to the New York-based Clinton Foundation.”

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” gave the “our hands are tied” defense three Pinocchios for being false.