By Justin Sink
President Clinton called reports that his namesake foundation had run multimillion-dollar deficits "misleading" in a lengthy open letter posted online Friday afternoon.
The letter serves as a rebuttal to a story in The New York Times this week that reported that the foundation piled up $40 million in deficit during Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and ran more than $8 million in the red in 2012.
In his letter, Clinton says that the tax forms cited in the report "can be misleading as to what is actually going on."
"When someone makes a multi-year commitment to the Foundation, we have to report it all in the year it was made," Clinton said. "In 2005 and 2006 as a result of multi-year commitments, the Foundation reported a surplus of $102,800,000 though we collected nowhere near that. In later years, as the money came in to cover our budgets, we were required to report the spending but not the cash inflow."
Clinton added that while the foundation was "hit by the economic slowdown in 2007 and the crash in 2008," it nevertheless ran a surplus in every year.
"When the audited financials are released, they will show a surplus," Clinton said.
Clinton also defended the organization's management overhaul, which reportedly came amid staff infighting and budget overruns in 2011. Clinton said that the foundation did hire an outside firm to review the organization's management structure, and that acting on its recommendations had ensured the long-term health of his charity.
"The review told us that my passion to keep overhead costs down — at about a low 8 percent for most of the last decade, rising only to above 11 percent in 2012 as we invested to support our growth — had gone on too long and that the Foundation needed better coordination without dampening the entrepreneurial spirit that infuses all our initiatives," Clinton said.
The open letter was likely intended to soothe the nerves of donors in the aftermath of the highly circulated Times report, which depicted the organization as mercurial and wasteful. Moreover, Clinton likely wants to neutralize opponents using the foundation as a detriment to a possible presidential bid by his wife in 2016.
In the letter, the former president says he is "immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last 12 years."
"Thanks to a large number of committed supporters in the U.S. and around the world, including individuals, large foundations like the Gates Foundation, the Dutch Postcode Lottery and others, foreign governments, and our dedicated staff, we’re in a good position," Clinton said. "We are in the process of appointing a larger, more independent board and we need an endowment, which our family and friends are working to raise."