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Why Hillary Clinton's foundation ties raise ethical concerns

Clinton conflicts of interest
Why a Clinton election win could pose conflicts of interest 03:10

Over the last 15 years, the Clinton Foundation has raised nearly two billion dollars, launching programs to promote global health and economic development. 

Officials have long acknowledged they’d need to curb their donor policy if Hillary Clinton becomes president, and though they announced those changes last week, there are still questions about potential conflicts of interest it could present for a Clinton White house. 

Donald Trump, Clinton’s general election opponent, has seized on the Clinton Foundation, alleging that Hillary Clinton and her aides gave megadonors special access while she was secretary of state, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

Hillary Clinton defends foundation 04:09

“The Clintons set up a business to profit from public office,” Trump said earlier this week, later adding that “access and favors were sold for cash.” 

Though former President Bill Clinton defended the charity’s work this week, in a recent letter to donors even he admitted there are “legitimate concerns about potential conflicts of interest” if his wife becomes president. 

If a second Clinton takes the White House in November, the foundation has decided to set up restrictions for donations. Foreign donors and corporations could no longer contribute, but U.S. citizens, U.S. foundations, and permanent residents could still give unlimited sums. 

The new rules don’t necessarily solve all the conflicts of interest -- like the crossover between Clinton’s political donors and the foundation. 

This summer, a third of her campaign fundraisers have been held by foundation donors, including film producer Harvey Weinstein, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and media mogul Haim Saban, who has donated between $10 and $25 million to the foundation. 

Doug White, who advises nonprofits and philanthropists on ethics, says the issue is “the intermingling of politics or government and the nonprofit world.”

“Even if she doesn’t exercise it, the fact that she could creates a potential conflict of interest,” he said. 

Another potential issue is that daughter Chelsea Clinton will remain on the board of the foundation. 

“Keeping her in that position only keeps alive the potential criticism and it would dog her presidency,” White said. 

There are two other lingering issues that could add to these concerns. A number of corporations are still giving money this year before the new rules would go into effect if she’s elected. And the foundation’s largest enterprise -- the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which gets a lot of its money overseas and has a separate board -- hasn’t yet decided what it will do. 

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