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Candidate Clinton and the Foundation

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of The NEW YORK TIMES —

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s determination to reconnect with voters in localized, informative settings is commendable, but is in danger of being overshadowed by questions about the interplay of politics and wealthy foreign donors who support the Clinton Foundation.

Nothing illegal has been alleged about the foundation, the global philanthropic initiative founded by former President Bill Clinton. But no one knows better than Mrs. Clinton that this is the tooth-and-claw political season where accusations are going to fly for the next 19 months. And no one should know better than the former senator and first lady that they will fester if straightforward answers are not offered to the public.

A Uranium One sign that points to a 35,000-acre ranch owned by John Christensen, near the town of Gillette, Wyo. Uranium One has the mining rights to Mr. Christensen’s property.Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium DealAPRIL 23, 2015
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.

The messiness of her connection with the foundation has been shown in a report by The Times on a complex business deal involving Canadian mining entrepreneurs who made donations to the foundation and were at the time selling their uranium company to the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company. That deal, which included uranium mining stakes in the United States, required approval by the federal government, including the State Department.

The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.

There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.

It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.

These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.

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