WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has offered to allow ethics reviews of future business and charitable activities should his wife be picked by President-elect Barack Obama as secretary of state, Democrats familiar with the issue said on Wednesday.
The former president is working to address questions about whether his philanthropic and business work would create the appearance of a conflict of interest in the event his wife were to take over the top U.S. diplomatic post.
“He is definitely helping. He is not an obstacle at all,” a Democrat familiar with the deliberations said.
Obama met former rival New York Sen. Hillary Clinton last Thursday to discuss the secretary of state job, a secret session that quickly leaked out.
Clinton, who was defeated by Obama during a tough Democratic primary battle earlier this year, was described by the adviser as conflicted about whether she wants to be secretary of state or remain in the Senate.
“That is true. The question is where she can be of best service,” a Clinton adviser said.
Obama’s transition team is believed to be looking at Bill Clinton’s post-White House work to review whether his international philanthropic and business dealings would pose a conflict of interest if his wife were secretary of state.
He has amassed a fortune since leaving the White House in early 2001 and is believed to be worth about $100 million, much of it from writing books and giving speeches.
Clinton has raised millions of dollars for his presidential library and foundation, with donations coming from some foreign governments and individuals.
The Democrats familiar with the issue confirmed a report in The Wall Street Journal that he had agreed to disclose the names of all new donors and make public the identities of major donors from the past.
He would also seek clearance from the White House counsel and the State Department ethics office for all donations to his William J. Clinton Foundation, they said. The foundation is used to help battle AIDS, malaria and global warming.
It remains to be seen whether Obama will make an actual job offer to Hillary Clinton.
Obama passed over Clinton and instead chose Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate, a decision that angered her biggest supporters and widened a split in the party that both Obama and Clinton have sought to heal.
Given the spate of news stories and increased attention to whether Clinton will be picked to run the State Department, some Clinton backers said it was time for Obama to clarify the situation.
“This has the potential of being a rather difficult situation for Obama and he needs to clarify it quickly,” a Democratic official said.
Editing by Eric Beech