Fact Check: Is The Clinton Foundation 'The Most Transparent'? : It's All Politics Since Hillary Clinton launched her presidential run, her family's foundation has been scrutinized. The Clintons responded, calling it the most transparent organization of its kind. But is that true?
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Fact Check: Is The Clinton Foundation 'The Most Transparent'?

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Fact Check: Is The Clinton Foundation 'The Most Transparent'?

Fact Check: Is The Clinton Foundation 'The Most Transparent'?

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Hillary Clinton has been dogged over the past week by scrutiny of her family's foundation. The Clintons are pushing back, saying their organization is one of the most transparent in the world. NPR's Peter Overby has dug into that claim.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The Clinton Foundation's acting CEO, Maura Pally, said this weekend that the foundation has made mistakes, but it's committed to operating responsibly and with better transparency. Pally's blog post came days after Chelsea Clinton, the foundation's vice chair, defended the foundation at a conference in New York City.

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HILLARY CLINTON: Even though Transparency International and others have said we're among the most transparent foundations, we'll disclose donors at a quarterly basis and not just an annual basis.

OVERBY: Here's Claudia Dumas, president of Transparency International-USA.

CLAUDIA DUMAS: We do not do an examination or any ranking of foundations.

OVERBY: Transparency International, or TI for short, promotes government transparency as a way to fight corruption. Back in 2012, TI's U.S. chapter did give Hillary Clinton an award. She was then secretary of state.

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CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I am - I am very honored to be here and delighted to be supporting the work of Transparency International-USA.

OVERBY: At TI-USA, Claudia Dumas said the award was...

DUMAS: Recognizing her contributions as secretary of state in raising the importance of transparency and anticorruption as elements of U.S. policy.

OVERBY: And Clinton never mentioned the foundation in her speech. Dumas said linking the award to the Clinton Foundation may have been an innocent mistake. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, in the April issue of Town & Country magazine, said the Clinton Foundation, quote, "is by a good long stretch the most transparent of all the presidential foundations and more transparent than a lot of other major foundations in the country," unquote. That oversimplifies things. The Clinton Foundation discloses all its donors. Former President Jimmy Carter's charitable Carter Center discloses all but its smallest donors. And those other major foundations that Clinton referred to - most of the big foundations - Ford, Gates, Rockefeller, for instance - are privately funded and don't have any outside donors to disclose. Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of philanthropy at Indiana University, says it's actually rather common for gaps to turn up in the tax returns filed by charitable foundations.

LESLIE LENKOWSKY: I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that there was some intent to hide here because so many other charities have difficulty with their record-keeping.

OVERBY: Lenkowsky said he's less concerned about the Clinton Foundation controversy itself and more concerned about its impact on the philanthropic world. So at least as things stand now, the Clinton Foundation transparency controversy resembles some of the other episodes of Clinton politics. It's a picture that's not terribly clear, shaped by exaggerations on both sides. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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