World News

Q+A- Clinton faces questions on husband's foundation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York faced questions at her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday about foreign donations to the charitable foundation of her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and their potential for conflicts of interest.

Three Republicans raised the issue at a largely friendly hearing on Hillary Clinton’s nomination by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as U.S. secretary of state.

Here are a few questions and answers about the issue.

- What is the Clinton Foundation?

The nonprofit foundation was established by the former president to help pay for his library in Arkansas and charitable projects and policy initiatives around the globe on issues such as fighting poverty, bolstering global health programs and promoting energy independence.

- Why has the foundation become an issue in Clinton’s nomination for secretary of state?

Concerns have been raised about potential conflicts of interest between Clinton’s role as secretary of state and the nearly $500 million (£345 million) in donations received for the foundation, including those from foreign governments.

“The core of the problem is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favour with the secretary of state,” Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at her hearing.

- What have the Clintons done to ease the concerns?

Under an agreement with President-elect Obama, Bill Clinton recently released the names of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation.

A memorandum of understanding between transition officials and the foundation, signed on December 12, required that Bill Clinton disclose the foundation’s future contributors once a year. The Clinton Global Initiative, an offshoot of the foundation, would no longer hold events outside the United States and would refuse any further contributions from foreign governments, it said.

- Who are the donors to the foundation?

A number of foreign governments, foundations and individuals contributed to the foundation. Saudi Arabia alone gave $10 million to $25 million, and Brunei, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar and Taiwan each gave more than $1 million.

Writing by John Whitesides, editing by Vicki Allen