Washington, Aug 23: More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was US secretary of state gave money either personally or through companies or groups to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.
At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Hillary while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to the Associated Press (AP).
The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Hillary and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009.
But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.
The AP's findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who personally met Hillary or spoke to her by phone about their needs. The 154 did not include US federal employees or foreign government representatives.Hillary met representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties. Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if Hillary is elected.