Archive for July, 2015

Another Donation Issue Hits Hillary Campaign & Clinton Foundation

Hillary ClintonA new list of donors to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation shows a marked surge in donations and the numbers of contributors to the family charity in the first half of this year — at the same time that Hillary Rodham Clinton ramped up her campaign for the presidency.

Clinton Foundation officials said figures released Thursday show that overall giving to the charity is up compared to the first half of 2014. The foundation has declined to provide specific donation amounts or the precise timing of its thousands of contributions.

There have been more than 10,500 donors so far this year compared with 8,800 in the first half of last year, foundation officials said. As many as 40 separate donors previously listed by the foundation appeared to have been dropped without explanation on the new release. A foundation spokesman said late Thursday that in most cases those donors remained on the list, but were listed under alternate names at the request of the contributors.

The foundation’s latest list shows that even as Hillary Clinton began campaigning and attending lucrative fundraisers in advance of the 2016 race, some of her top political supporters were increasing their donations to the Clinton Foundation, as were numerous corporations and foreign governments with interests before the U.S. government.

“We know that donors are giving more because they are seeing the impact of our work across the globe,” said the foundation’s new president, Donna Shalala, who was accompanying Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, on a tour of foundation programs in Haiti.

An Associated Press analysis of the list shows that donors increasing their stakes in the foundation during the first six months of this year included veteran Democratic fundraisers Haim Saban, S. Daniel Abraham and Barbara Streisand, either personally or through their charitable arms.

Shalala, who was Health and Human Services Secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration, is among a number of Clinton loyalists who also boosted their donations this year. Others include Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate who is one of the top donors to the foundation at more than $25 million, and data entrepreneur Vinod Gupta.

The Clintons themselves, through their private Clinton Family Foundation, also upped their ante to between $5 million and $10 million. In May, Hillary Clinton disclosed that she and her husband made more than $25 million from speeches over the past year and a half.

In some cases, new donations were substantial. This year’s giving increased the total amount donated by the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation to more than $5 million. The foundation for the wealthy Pritzker family had previously given in the range of $1 million to $5 million. Penny Pritzker, secretary of commerce in the Obama administration, is a longtime Democratic fundraiser.

Major corporate interests either stepped up donations this year by giving directly or gave through their corporate foundations. Among them were Barclays, Citigroup and HSBC banks, Duke Energy, Cisco, Dell, Toyota and Chevron.

In about 40 cases, the foundation’s list no longer carried the names of previously listed donors, including corporations, charities, partnerships, individual donors and the country of Germany. Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said the entries were altered, not dropped. He added that “we did correct some names per the request of the organization or to make the listing accurately reflect who the donation was from.” Minassian did not cite specific examples.

In other cases, the foundation altered the names of previously listed donors in ways as insignificant as adding an extra comma or hyphen in a corporate name, adding a person’s middle initial or adding or removing the name of a donor’s spouse, which can make it difficult to track contributions over time from the same sources. In some cases, changes were made to listings of names of people, companies or organizations that did not give any additional money during the first half of 2015.

The Clinton Foundation agreed earlier this year to stop taking funding from most foreign governments. Several nations that were exempted continued making contributions, including Australia, Norway and the Netherlands.

The foundation had previously tended to update its lists annually but agreed earlier this year to provide new figures for the first half of the year, followed by quarterly updates.



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Trump Defies Media and Solidifies Lead in GOP Field

The DonaldSome Republicans gleefully scripted Donald Trump’s political obituary in the wake of his scathing comments about Sen. John McCain’s military service earlier this month, hoping that his freewheeling presidential campaign had finally imploded.

Predictions of his demise were apparently premature. Instead, Trump is gaining momentum ahead of next week’s first Republican debate, a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows.

The poll shows Trump with his greatest support yet nationally, as nearly a quarter of Republicans surveyed said he would be their choice as the party’s presidential nominee in 2016. He has opened up a double-digit lead over his closest rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who trails at 12 percent.

“I’m proud to be in first place by such a wide margin in another national poll,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump has surged since suffering a slight downtick in the wake of the McCain furor. The five-day rolling online poll had the real-estate mogul and reality TV star at 15 percent among Republicans on Friday before rocketing to 24.9 percent on Tuesday.

“He’s not going away,” said Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire and a former McCain adviser. “There are people who think his candidacy is a flash in the pan or a flash in the moment, but I think that underestimates his appeal.”

Trump would seem to be a lock to be on the stage next week in Cleveland for a debate sponsored by Fox News, which will use national polls to determine which 10 of the 17 Republican candidates in the field can participate.

But perhaps of greater concern to establishment Republicans, Reuters/Ipsos polling also shows that in a three-way race with Trump running as an independent in the general election, Trump would drain support from the Republican nominee and allow the Democrat, likely Hillary Clinton, to skate to victory.

Trump has refused to rule out a possible independent run. In a matchup with Clinton and Bush, he would essentially tie Bush at about 23 percent among likely voters, with Clinton winning the White House with 37 percent of the vote. (About 15 percent of those polled said they were undecided or would not vote.)

It is that scenario that should keep party strategists up at night. Something similar occurred in 1992, when businessman Ross Perot’s independent candidacy helped thwart President George H.W. Bush’s reelection bid and allowed Bill Clinton to capture the presidency with just a 43 percent plurality. Bush received the lowest percentage of the popular vote of any sitting president in 80 years.

In Trump’s case, he appears to be cornering the market on white voters, the backbone of the current Republican Party, the poll shows. Republicans need as many white votes as possible to offset demographic shifts in the United States that have handed Democrats an electoral advantage in the last two presidential elections.

In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won almost 60 percent of the white vote, yet still lost to President Barack Obama by five million votes.

A third-party bid by Trump would effectively doom any Republican’s chances at the presidency, the poll shows, be it Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Senator Marco Rubio or someone else.

The five-day rolling poll was based on a survey of a 425 Republicans and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points. The three-way race poll, taken at the same time, used a sample of 1,280 Americans and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


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Christie Attacks Pollster for Poor Showing in New Hampshire Polls

Chris Christie, Mary Pat Christie, Don VanDenBergheNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blasted a top pollster who found him trailing several Republican presidential candidates in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

“First of all, it’s a Monmouth University poll, so you guys should know by now that the Monmouth University polls [are] created just to aggravate me,” Christie reportedly told members of the press during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “Just look at Patrick Murray and his tweets, there couldn’t be a less objective pollster about Chris Christie in America.”

Murray is the executive director of the polling institute at Monmouth University. In the institute’s latest poll, Christie placed among the bottom half of GOP candidates with just 4 percent support among likely Republican voters in New Hampshire.

“Despite spending much of his time [in New Hampshire], Christie does much better as a second choice rather than the first pick,” Murray said in a press release Tuesday.

The Garden State governor described Murray as a “liberal advocate” to reporters and questioned whether “anybody really care[s]” about the New Jersey-based institute’s polling data.

“You think nationally people are on the edge of their seat waiting for the Monmouth University poll to come out? I mean, please, stop,” Christie said, according to NJ Advance Media.

“I mean, there are polls and there are polls, guys, and part of the problem is that no one exercises any quality control over what you should listen to and not listen to and that’s why I’ve said all along, I don’t really care about that stuff,” he added.

Prior to Christie’s presidential announcement in late June, Murray had planned to ask New Jersey voters if their governor would “make a good president” since Christie had told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that New Jerseyans were reluctant to support his presidential bid because they wanted him to remain in place as governor.

“When your favorability ratings are even lower than your job approval ratings, it suggests they don’t think you’re up to the job,” Murray had said at the time, according to “[I]t certainly doesn’t suggest they love you, which is really what the underlying this is: We love you so much that we want you back.”

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“The Donald” – Trumping All Republicans In Latest National Poll

Vote 2016

In the first national telephone poll since Donald Trump earned rebukes from Republican leaders over his comments about Senator John McCain’s military service, the real estate mogul has increased his support among GOP voters and now stands atop the race for the party’s nomination.

The new CNN/ORC Poll finds Trump at 18% support among Republicans, with former Florida governor Jeb Bush just behind at 15%, within the poll’s margin of error.

They are joined at the top of the pack by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, with 10% support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote. Trump’s backing has climbed 6 points since a late-June poll, while support for Bush and Walker has not changed significantly.

None of the other 14 candidates tested in the new CNN/ORC survey earned double-digit support.

Though Trump currently tops the race for the nomination, his advantage is by no means firm. A majority of Republican voters, 51%, say they see the field as wide open, and that it’s too soon to say which candidate they will ultimately get behind. Among that group that see the contest as wide open, Bush has 14% support, while Trump has the backing of 13% and Walker stands at 9%.

Trump does much better among those Republicans who say they’ve narrowed it down to one or two candidates, 24% of that group backs him, 16% Bush and 12% Walker.

Trump’s popularity among Republican voters does not translate to the broader pool of registered voters. When tested in hypothetical general election matchups against top Democrats, he trails both frontrunner Hillary Clinton and upstart Senator Bernie Sanders by wide margins. Bush and Walker run just behind Clinton and about even with Sanders.

Trump’s unfavorability rating is sky high. Overall, 59% of all registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, though that dips to 42% among GOP voters.

None of the other Republicans landing near the top of the field have such a negative image nationwide, though many remain little known.

Clinton is the only candidate who is about as well-known as Trump, and while she is more well-liked than the developer, her favorability rating is net negative among registered voters nationally: 49% have an unfavorable view while 44% have a positive impression.

Still, the poll suggests Republican voters haven’t yet had their fill of Trump. A majority (52%) say they’d like to see Trump continue his run for the GOP nomination, including nearly six in 10 conservatives, tea party supporters and white evangelicals. Even among those Republican voters who support someone other than Trump, 42% say they’d like him to remain in the field.

CNN PollThe Republican electorate is more enthusiastic about next year’s vote than the Democrats are. The poll finds 46% of Democratic voters say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president next year, compared with 55% of Republican voters. But enthusiasm is down in both parties compared with June of 2011, when 61% of Republican registered voters and 55% of Democratic registered voters were that enthusiastic.

In another positive sign for Trump’s candidacy, among those Republicans who are enthusiastic about voting next year, Trump holds a larger edge over his competition: 22% say they would back him for their party’s nomination, compared with 14% who back Bush and 12% behind Walker.

Overall, about three-quarters of Republicans are satisfied with their choices, more so than in 2011 at this time (about two-thirds were satisfied then), but still, just 23% say they are “very satisfied” with the field.

Meanwhile, an NBC News/Marist poll on Sunday showed Trump leading among New Hampshire GOP primary voters and narrowly trailing Walker in Iowa.

Trump took 21% of the New Hampshire GOP primary vote, with Bush running second at 14%, while in Iowa Trump was at 17% and Walker at 19%, according to the NBC/Marist survey.

On the Democratic side, the CNN poll found Clinton remains the clear frontrunner, though Sanders has increased his support slightly since last month’s poll. Clinton is backed by 56% of registered Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, while Sanders has inched up to 19% from 15% in June. The rest of the field is about even with where they were before.

The CNN/ORC International Poll was conducted July 22-25 among a random national sample of 1,017 adults, including 898 registered voters. Results for all registered voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The registered voter sample included 419 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents as well as 392 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.


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Obama Arrives in Ethiopia to Discuss Regional Security & Business

Obama EthiopiaBarack Obama met the Ethiopian prime minister on Monday on the first visit by a serving U.S. president to a nation with one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa but which has often been criticized for its rights record.

Talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are expected focus on security and the threat of the Islamist militant group al Shabaab in Somalia. Obama, who arrived from Kenya on Sunday, also wants to boost business ties with Africa.

Ethiopia’s ruling party, in power for quarter of a century, has turned the once famine-stricken economy around, but opponents say it has been at the expense of political freedoms. The opposition failed to secure a single seat in a May parliamentary election.

On Obama’s first stop in Kenya, his father’s homeland, he urged Kenyans to deepen democracy, tackle corruption and end politics of exclusion based on gender or ethnicity. He also promised Kenya more security assistance.

“We are strongly committed to partnering with African countries to increase their capacity to address the immediate threats posed by terrorist organizations,” the White House said in a statement on Monday.

Ethiopia contributes troops to an African Union peace keeping force battling al Shabaab in Somalia. The group has often launched attacks in Kenya, but diplomats say Ethiopia’s state security apparatus has spared it similar assaults.

Obama holds talks with regional leaders about the conflict in South Sudan late on Monday. Warring factions have ignored pressure to end fighting, and talks may consider possible sanctions if an mid-August deadline is not met.

Obama, who many Africans claim as their son, is seeking to expand business links with the continent, where China overtook the United States as the biggest trade partner in 2009.

“Africa is on the move. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world,” Obama told a conference in Nairobi on Saturday that sought to encourage African entrepreneurs and match them with investors.

Ethiopia, brought to its knees by communist purges in the 1970s and famine in the 1980s, has won praise for pushing growth into double digits and spreading development with a range of rural health programs and other initiatives across the nation.

But it has relied largely on state-led investment to drive growth, which economists say is squeezing out private business. It remains one of the world’s biggest recipients of aid and is still among Africa’s poorest nations per capita.

The government has often turned to China to help build new roads, railways and dams in its bid to expand the industrial base in the largely agrarian economy. The new metro line that snakes through Addis Ababa was built by a Chinese firm.


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President Obama to Close Historic Kenyan Visit with Address

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama signs a guest book as he arrives at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi

President Barack Obama is closing an historic visit to the land that considers him a local son with an address to the people of Kenya.

Obama also planned to speak with Kenyan youth and meet with civic leaders before he arrives late Sunday in Ethiopia, the second and final stop on his latest trip to the continent. The president’s late father was born and is buried in Kenya, and its people have waited for years for the chance to welcome Obama back as president.

He made history by becoming the first sitting American president to visit Kenya when he arrived late Friday.

Obama’s address to an audience of several thousand packed into an indoor arena is expected to focus more on his vision for Kenya’s future and the broad themes of U.S.-Kenya relations than on his personal reflections about his first trip to his ancestral home since a visit in 2006 when he was a U.S. senator.

Kenya has one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent and is the commercial hub of East Africa, but is also struggling to overcome challenges to its prosperity posed by widespread corruption and the threat of al-Shabab militants based in neighboring Somalia.

Obama will also highlight efforts to support African youth by dropping by a regional center for his Young African Leaders Initiative, a program to help cultivate the next generation of African leaders. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Saturday at a news conference with Obama that Obama will remembered in Africa for focusing on the continent’s young people.

In Ethiopia, another Horn of Africa nation that will be getting its first visit by a sitting U.S. president, Obama planned meetings with the president and prime minister in the capital of Addis Ababa. Separately, Obama will also convene a meeting with the leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to discuss the situation in South Sudan, which has been gripped by turmoil since a civil war broke out in December 2013.

Obama will also speak to the continent from the headquarters of the African Union, which plays a role in peace and security on the continent.

It will be the first time an American president addresses the AU.

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Former Sec. Clinton To Appear Before Benghazi Committee in October

Hillary Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton’s presidential campaign said on Saturday the former secretary of state will testify on Oct. 22 before a House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks, but a spokesman for the panel said no date had been set.

Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi investigation committee, had sought to hear from Clinton on the attacks, in which four Americans were killed, and her use of a private email account while she was America’s top diplomat.

A spokesman for Clinton, the front-runner in polls for the Democratic nomination in next year’s presidential election, said she had accepted an offer from the committee to testify on Oct. 22.

“Earlier this week we were pleased for Secretary Clinton to receive an offer from Congressman Gowdy to appear before the committee in a public hearing in October, and yesterday accepted his invitation,” campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said in an emailed statement. He said the date was Oct. 22.

A few hours after the Clinton campaign announced her planned appearance, Jamal Ware, spokesman for the Benghazi committee, said the date was not firm.

“Secretary Clinton’s campaign may want to reach out to her lawyer, Mr. David Kendall, with whom the Committee has had ongoing conversations,” Ware said in a statement. “As of last night, Mr. Kendall was still negotiating conditions for her appearance.”

Ware said the conditions proposed by Kendall were that the date of her testimony not change once it was set and that questioning of Clinton stay within parameters set by the resolution that established the committee.

However, a Democratic spokesman for the Benghazi committee said Gowdy’s staff had proposed dates in October and that Clinton’s attorney had accepted Oct. 22.

Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Congressional Republicans have scrutinized Clinton’s handling of the incident and criticized the lack of security at the U.S. compound.

Clinton has also been engulfed in a controversy over her use of a private email server instead of a government account while she was secretary of state.

At least four emails out of some 30,000 from that private account contained classified information, according to a government inspector’s letter to Congress this week.


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