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Clinton health charity defends new foreign donations rule

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage with Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for the official release of the No Ceilings Full Participation Report which coincides with the start of the 59th session of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women on March 9, 2015 in New York City.

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Last Updated Apr 17, 2015 6:14 PM EDT

A new policy of the Clinton Health Access Initiative allows potentially any foreign government to donate millions to the Clinton family's largest philanthropy, CBS News' Julianna Goldman confirms.

"CHAI will accept funding from foreign governments committed to meeting global health challenges," the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) donor disclosure policy now reads. The health venture's website goes on to say that it will accept donations from governments that fund the initiative's global health work, or from governments with which CHAI works in the developing world. Other foreign governments that wish to contribute are required to pass a review by foundation's the independent board members.

A Clinton Health Access Initiative representative defended the donor policy change.

"CHAI is an independent 501c3 charitable organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation," CHAI spokeswoman Maura Daley said to CBS News in a statement. "As such, a separate policy that is unique to CHAI is necessary."

Hillary Clinton, who launched her bid for the White House on Sunday, has been under intense media scrutiny for her ties to foreign governments because of their controversial donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation has since changed the way it accepts foreign funding.

But the new rules of the global health venture diverge from the rest of the Clinton Foundation's initiatives, which only accepts gifts from six nations. Of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation's charities, the Clinton Health Access Initiative is the single largest venture, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The policies are different because global health is funded by governments, a Clinton Foundation official told CBS News.

The policy also notes that "during the period that Secretary Clinton is running for President, President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will not solicit funds from foreign governments or negotiate agreements for funds from foreign governments."

In March, Reuters reported that CHAI not only didn't disclose donors annually, but they also didn't go to the State Department to review new donations from foreign governments, which was part of an understanding with the Clinton Foundation. The health initiative spun off from the Foundation in 2010. It has a hand in combatting HIV/AIDS and malaria, along with other public health efforts.

Of the six entities that have given more than 25 million to CHAI between 2010 and 2014, 3 are foreign governments: Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UK Department for International Development. A fourth is UNITAID which looks to be funded by several governments. The other two are Gates foundation and ELMA Foundation. Canada has given between 10 and 25 million.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the ELMA Foundation, rather than ELMA Philanthropies, is one of the largest funders of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. CHAI had incorrectly listed ELMA Philanthropies as one of the donors on their website.